Isha beats back Iciri's challenge

MUMBAI MARCH 30. Isha Lakhani's competitive instincts came to the fore for the second successive day on Sunday, the Indian youngster battling hard to ward off Iciri Rai's challenge 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) in the final qualifying match of the CCI-ITF Women's Futures Tennis Mumbai leg at the Cricket Club of India on Sunday. Two other Indians — Archana Venkataraman and Shruti Dhawan — joined Isha in the women's main draw.

The Mumbai-based left-hander, now playing in the senior ranks, surprised onlookers by dropping serve in the opening game of the second set after having wrapped up the first. The pressure got to her as games went with serve thereafter, till a double break in the sixth and eighth games swelled her lead to 5-3. Iciri fought back from the brink, managing two breaks to extend the match into the tie-breaker.

Isha took charge from there, beating back exhaustion due to humid climate and exertion of a tough qualifying match earlier to win and ensure a place in the main draw, commencing on Monday.

The local challengers wilting in the heat included Kamini Murugaboopathy who went down to Orawan Lamangthong of Thailand 0-6, 5-7, Preeti Rao who lost to Rozsivalova Richterova (Czech) 0-6, 1-6 and Kalpita Raje who crashed to Natlie Neri (Great Britain) 1-6, 0-6.

The Mumbai leg is organised by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association under the auspices of All India Tennis Association.

The results (final qualifying): Isha Lakhani bt Iciri Rai 6-3, 7-6; Natalie Neri (Gbr) bt Kalpita Raje 6-1, 6-0; Archana Venkataraman bt Jhanvi Sunderajan 4-0 (retd); Shruti Dhawan bt Arthi Venkataraman 6-1, 6-1; Orawan Lamangthong (Tha) bt Kamini Murugaboopathy 6-0, 7-5; R. Rozsivalova (Czech Republic) bt Preeti Rao 6-0, 6-1.

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