ITF men’s tennis tournament: Palan knocks out top seed Crawford
Fourth seed Dominik Palan knocked out the top seed and champion of the last tournament Oliver Crawford of USA 7-6(5), 6-1 in the $25,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament organised by MSLTA at the GA Ranade Centre on Saturday.
In the other semifinal, Digvijay Pratap Singh retired early in the second set after losing the first against Ryuki Matsuda of Japan.
In the doubles final, second seeds Rithvik Bollipalli and Niki Poonacha won their fourth successive title, beating the top seeds Vladyslav Orlov of Ukraine and Vishnu Vardhan for the loss of four games.
It was the sixth title of the season for the Indian pair which had won three in Monastir, Tunisia, apart from the last two in Delhi and Indore. Interestingly, it was the fifth title in the last six weeks for Bollipalli and Poonacha.
Aradhya, Maaya win boys, girls titles at EMMTC National U-14 Championship
Aurangabad: Aradhya Kshitij and Maaya Rajeshwaran won the boys and girls titles respectively in the EMMTC National U-14 Championship on Saturday.
Aradhya beat Showrya Samala 6-2, 6-4 while Maaya beat Harithashree Venkatesh 7-6(1), 6-0.
Both Showrya and Harithashree went on to win the doubles title in partnership with Vedant Bhasin and Diya Ramesh respectively.
Helsinki Challenger: Purav-Divij beat Kachmazov-Kotov
Purav Raja and Divij Sharan beat Alibek Kachmazov and Pavel Kotov 6-3, 6-2 to make the doubles final fo the €67,960 Challenger tennis tournament in Helsinki, Finland.
In the Challenger in Champaign, USA, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was beaten in the quarterfinals 6-3, 7-5 by Ben Shelton of USA.
€67,960 Challenger, Helsinki, Finland
Doubles (semifinals): Purav Raja & Divij Sharan bt Alibek Kachmazov & Pavel Kotov 6-3, 6-2.
$53,120 Challenger, Champaign, USA
Singles (quarterfinals): Ben Shelton (USA) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-5.
Doubles (semifinals): Robert Galloway (USA) & Hans Hach Verdugo (Can) bt Sriram Balaji & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 7-6(5), 6-4.
$15,000 ITF women, Nairobi, Kenya
Doubles (quarterfinals): Sebastiani Leon (USA) & Divine Desam Nweke (Ngr) bt Mahrukh Kokni & Shranya Shetty 6-2, 6-2.
$25,000 UTR Pro women, Dubai, UAE
Positional play-off: Sai Samhitha bt Sara Gvozdenovic (Srb) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Kriish Tyagi beats Hanu Patel
Guwahati: Third seed Kriish Tyagi beat Hanu Patel of the USA 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the boys final of the ITF grade-4 junior tennis tournament on Friday.
The girls title was bagged by second seed Margot Phanthala of France as she beat top seed Sonal Patil for the loss of four games.
Asia-Oceania blind football championship: China champion, India seventh
China defeated Thailand 2-1, via the tiebreaker, in the final and won the Asia-Oceania blind football championship at the United Sports Centre, Kakkanad.
Japan finished third while host India was seventh.
Final placings: 1. China, 2. Thailand, 3. Japan, 4. Iran, 5. South Korea, 6. Malaysia, 7. India, 8. Uzbekistan, 9. Kazakhstan, 10. Australia.
Real Kashmir FC win 2-0 as I-League returns to valley
Passion was high and the excitement grew greater with each minute as locals came out in huge numbers to support Real Kashmir FC in their I-League match against Rajasthan United FC -- the first such game in the valley since the COVID-19 outbreak.
The synthetic turf at the TRC Grounds – the venue of the game – came alive after three years as football supporters filled up the stands on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
The match – won by RKFC 2-0 – was the first high-profile game in the valley since the outbreak of COVID-19.
As the players took to the ground, the spectators cheered for their team. The match referee’s whistles could hardly be heard amid the applause, drumbeats and whistles, and the occasional boos for the opponents.
The match had its moments – power-packed volleys, numerous headers, heated arguments between players, unruly scenes, as well as injuries.
There was no dull moment in the game and the crowd loved every single minute, with the cold conditions failing to dampen their spirit. They backed the RKFC players, sometimes tried to act like coaches, telling the players what to do.
“I am glad that our team lived up to the expectations of the huge crowd that had gathered to cheer the Snow Leopards. The enthusiasm was more because of the new local coach who is a an inspiration for the youth,” said RKFC owner Sandeep Chattoo.
With the crowd backing them to the hilt, the RKFC players kept the pressure on the visiting team throughout the game. Their defence was strong, and the attack stronger.
The team did not disappoint its supporters as it struck one past the rival team goal-keeper in the 21st minute through Moro Lamine, the 28-year-old Ghanaian centre-back, as the crowd stood on its feet.
The teams changed ends, but RKFC continued with their impressive ways. The Real Kashmir continued to dominate the match and struck again in the 77th minute through Jerry Pulamte.
Not only did the second goal break the back of the visiting team, it sent the spectators into a state of frenzy. The cheering grew louder and the atmosphere became electric.
The Real Kashmir FC flags flew high, the drum beats got louder and sloganeering shriller.
The acceptance of an imminent defeat could be sensed among Rajasthan players as they dropped their shoulders. When the referee signalled the end of the game, the Real Kashmir players rejoiced, and so did the crowd.
“It is after a long time we got to witness such a high-profile football game. We were waiting for the Snow Leopards to return to the valley and play at home,” Shahid Ahmad, an ardent RKFC supporter said.
He said the football fans in the valley had missed the game in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“Watching football on the ground is altogether a different experience. There is excitement, there is passion and adrenaline flows high. You cannot have that setting at home while watching it on television,” Ahmad said.
Tasaduq Amin, a football lover, said he enjoyed watching the Snow Leopards roar and expressed hope that the Real Kashmir would keep the momentum going in the next game.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu retains title with sensational 64
Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu came from behind with a sensational eight-under 64 to retain his title with a two-shot triumph at the IndianOil SERVO Masters on Saturday.
Yuvraj, who had also won his maiden PGTI title in Digboi last year, totalled 17-under 271 for the week, matching Ashok Kumar’s record of five wins in a PGTI season set by the latter in the tour’s inaugural season in 2006-07.
The 25-year-old Sandhu (63-70-74-64) now has eight professional titles to his name including six on the PGTI’s main tour.
Yuvraj’s winning cheque worth Rs 11,25,000 took his earnings for the season to Rs 62,39,768, extending his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit to over Rs 11 lakh over second-placed Manu Gandas who has four titles to his credit this season.
Arjun Sharma (66-68-70-69) of Greater Noida, the overnight leader by one shot, secured his second runner-up finish of the season after he shot a final round of 69 to total 15-under 273 for the week. Arjun, as a result, climbed from 28th to 19th place in PGTI’s money list.
Yashas Chandra M S of Mysuru shot the last day’s best score of 66 to claim tied third place at 13-under 275 along with Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (67).
Pune’s Udayan Mane took fifth place at 12-under 276.
Yuvraj, who was the leader for the first two rounds before slipping to tied fourth and three shots off the lead after round three, came out firing on all cylinders with a flawless 64 on Saturday that featured four birdies each on the front-nine and back-nine.
Yuvraj’s ball-striking, the best aspect of his game through the week, stood out for him once again in round four as he found the edges of a couple of par-4 greens with his tee shots and a couple of par-5 greens with his approach shots to set up chip-putt birdies there.
He also sank a 15-footer on the 13th and was two-on on the par-5 15th making birdies on both occasions.
Yuvraj said, “I generally don’t start an event well but with my round of 63 here I told myself, if I can do it on day one, I can certainly do it on day four.” “The thought that inspired me at the start of the round today was that I began my golf in Assam so I have a special connection with this place and therefore I have to do well here.” Arjun Sharma mixed five birdies with two bogeys on day four to bag second place.
Yashas Chandra, who came up with the day’s best 66, sank an eagle on the seventh and four other birdies during his error-free round that lifted him nine spots from his overnight tied 12th.
Thangaraja made seven birdies and two bogeys during his final round of 67.