Joshna Chinappa bagged her maiden WISPA crown — sixth overall — in her hometown, hardly seven months after recovering from a major knee surgery. The 25-year-old Indian gave it her all in scripting a 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-10 win over England's Sarah Jane Perry in the final of the Chennai Open $10,000 women's squash tournament at the Indian Squash Academy, here on Saturday.
Playing her third final, Sarah, with one WISPA title to her credit, is no neophyte. The 22-year-old, hailing from the small city of Kenilworth near Birmingham, troubled Joshna with excellent boasts and further, she used her height to easily reach tough balls.
Shrugging off a hesitant start, Joshna came back strongly in the second game. Sarah made a lot of uncharacteristic errors especially on the backhand. Once the Indian took a 7-3 lead, her confidence started to grow.
The wonderful boast she played — one that hit the left wall and fell ‘dead' just above the tin on the right — took one's breath away. Though Joshna didn't produce as many winners as her opponent, what gave her the edge in rallies was her willingness to stretch and put more balls in. The British girl, for her part, committed far too many unforced errors.
After taking the third game in a pretty close battle, Joshna held the mental edge. But it was Sarah who started off well, running away to a 7-3 lead in the fourth. Joshna didn't give up as she retrieved exceptionally to equalise at seven each.
Ranked eleven places below Sarah at 71, Joshna had two match points at 10-8, but Sarah saved both. At 11-10, Joshna was lucky to get a ‘let', and then a backhand error from Sarah saw Joshna win the title.
“I would like to thank Dr. Jagdish (MIOT Hospital) who operated on my knee, physio Ahmed Yousuf, Ritwik Bhattacharya, my coaches Malcolm Willstrop, Cyrus Poncha and Maj. Maniam for helping me. It's great to win my first title in Chennai after being in the final twice earlier. I'm grateful to be playing, let alone winning. Winning is a bonus,” said Joshna, who received $1900 and 350 ranking points.
Sarah admitted that Joshna was the better player.
She added, “I think I played much better squash compared to the semifinals. So I am pleased with my effort.” The British girl had to be satisfied with $1300 and 280 ranking points.
D. Sabitha, principal secretary, School Education Department, TN Government and Srivatsan Subramanian, secretary, Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association, gave away the prizes.
The results (final):
Joshna Chinappa (Ind) bt Sarah Jane Perry (Eng) 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-10.