Coach Saurav Panja on the Indian under-14 team
The two weeks of the Asian under-14 developmental event at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar was another fine exposure for the young Indian players. It was Korea that had the upper hand, especially in the first week when its players swept all the gold medals in boys and girls, in singles and doubles.
Maaya Rajeshwaran made the girls’ final in the first week, and Shivtej Shirfule made the boys’ final in the second week.
Saurav Panja, a very talented player in his time, was pleased with the game and the attitude of the Indian players.
“Harithashree Venkatesh also played well in the first week to secure third place. Maaya and Harithashree played smart doubles in winning the silver. Overall, it was a commendable performance by the Indian team to win three silver and a bronze medal”, said Panja.
Prakaash Sarran was the fourth player in the Indian squad, and had made the quarterfinal in the first week,
Panja was pleased to help the players soon after they had competed in the Asia-Oceania World Junior event in Kuching, Malaysia. It was a chastening experience for the boys’ team.
“They are all good players, and not difficult to coach and guide. They are disciplined, hard-working and have a good attitude”, said Panja.
There is tremendous room for improvement as the players themselves understand from the exposure to different players from the region.
“They just need to stay focused, continue to work hard, and chase their dreams”, said Panja, happy to have got a chance to work with the best of talent in the country, and contribute his share for their growth.
Challenger Tennis Tournament: Anirudh and Vijay finish runner-up
Top seeds Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul of France beat Anirudh Chandrasekar and Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles final of the €73,000 Challenger Tennis Tournament in Split, Croatia.
The champion team won €4,250 and 75 ATP points. The runners-up pocketed 50 points and €2,450.
Asian Tour: Lahiri shoots 8-under but finishes second in Vietnam
India’s Anirban Lahiri produced the day’s best round of bogey-free 8-under that almost brought him his first win in eight years on the Asian Tour on Sunday.
Lahiri, 10-under overnight, set the target at 18-under and then waited for those following him to finish. He ended second.
Kieran Vincent of Zimbabwe, in just his second year as a professional, holed a decisive 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Lahiri and Australian Kevin Yuan by one stroke.
Kieran Vincent’s brother Scott won International Series England last year. The 25-year-old Kieran won USD 360,000.
Vincent shot a six-under-par 66 for a four-round aggregate of 19 under, while Lahiri carded a 64 and Yuan (68) missed a similar length birdie putt on the last to force a sudden-death playoff.
S Chikkarangappa (65) also had a great final round but finished tied 27th as Honey Baisoya (68), who started the week with 65, shot 73-72 in between, and finished tied 40th.
Veer Ahlawat (69) was tied 56th, Karandeep Kochhar (69) was tied 61st, while Kartik Sharma (73) and SSP Chawrasia (75) were tied 71st.
Seven-time Asian Tour winner Lahiri was attempting to win his first Asian Tour title since his 2015 Indian Open win and was a strong favourite after storming through the field in the fifth from last group, making eight birdies in his first 14 holes. However, he could only par the last four holes.
“I’m happy with the way I played, disappointed not to make a couple more coming in,” said Lahiri, the Asian Tour’s number one player in 2015 before embarking on a successful career on the PGA Tour.
“You know I got off to a really good start. I kind of found my rhythm yesterday and today so that was nice. Yeah, a little upset not to make maybe one or two in the last four holes which are very gettable. So yeah, great week, but it’s disappointing. I’ve had so many seconds now I need to break this habit of mine.” The Indian star heads to the LIV Golf Adelaide event next week before LIV Golf Singapore.
“Excited to take this form into the next few weeks. I think it is going to be an important stretch over the next month, month and a half. You know, you get into the meat of the season.
“And very exciting to go to Australia. I’ve been to Adelaide and I’m hearing great things about the venue, about the people and the anticipation, the buzz is great.” Japan’s Takumi Kanaya had started the day with a three-shot advantage but, unlike International Series Oman in February where he triumphed after also holding the third-round lead, he struggled on the back nine and closed with a 73 to tie for fourth, on 16 under.
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