SQUASH / Clinches maiden medal at world championships

India made history in the world junior men’s team squash championship in Doha by winning a medal (bronze) for the first time.

Reaching the semifinal itself was a creditable show, but the icing on the cake came when India defeated England 2-0 in the third-placing match to clinch a bronze, amidst all-round cheers.

After his heroics against Hong Kong earlier, Kush Kumar provided the decisive touch for India by winning the opening match against Richie Fallows of England. Kush made a great start, imposing his fast game on Richie, who was immediately on the backfoot.

It took two games for Richie to settle down, but by then he was in arrears. The English boy showed good imagination in lengthening the rallies, thereby helping him open up the court to his advantage. He eventually grabbed the third game.

The fourth game was a thriller all the way as National coach Cyrus Poncha put it; Kush found the big points after being down two game-balls, to clinch the match and virtually take the advantage away from England.

Mahesh Mangaonkar, who was next on court, ensured India’s historic moment when he came from a game down to beat Ollie Holland. WSF president and former SRFI secretary general, N. Ramachandran was thrilled over the boys’ show. “It is a fantastic performance. Never before have we achieved this. The boys have done the country proud,” he said.

Wonderful progress

Maj S. Maniam, SRFI consultant and the man who was behind the structured training at the Indian Squash Academy, was pleased. “I had expected a semifinal finish, but this is wonderful progress,” he said.

Also reacting to India’s performance, SRFI secretary-general Srivatsan Subramaniam said, “This is great news for Indian squash! It is encouraging that our squash players are continuing to improve.”

Earlier, India went down fighting to top seed and defending champion Egypt in the semifinal.

The results: Third place: England lost to India 0-2 (Richie Fallows lost to Kush Kumar 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-13; Ollie Holland lost to Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-6, 0-11, 6-11, 7-11.

Semifinal: Egypt bt India 3-0 (Marwan El Shorbagy bt Mahesh Mangaonkar 9-11, 12-10, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5; Mohamed Abouelghar bt Abhishek Pradhan 10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 ; Mazen Hesham bt Vrishab Koitan 11-9, 11-4).

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