HCL-SRFI Indian squash tour: Velavan and Tanvi win titles in contrasting fashion

Tanvi Khanna beat Sunayna Kuruvilla in a nail-biting fixture whereas S. Velavan secured a comfortable win over Abhishek Pradhan.

Sunayna Kuruvilla and Tanvi Khanna

Sunayna Kuruvilla (in orange) and Tanvi Khanna in action during the women’s finals of the Chennai leg of the HCL-SRFI India tour at the Indian Squash Academy Court on Thursday.   -  The Hindu

Sunayna Kuruvilla and Tanvi Khanna, two of India’s best players after Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, produced a top-class performance in the women’s final that brought the curtains down on the HCL-SRFI Indian Squash Tour tournament, a PSA Challenger-10 event, at the ISA courts here on Thursday.

Second seed Tanvi saved three match points to outlast Sunayna Kuruvilla, the top seed, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 15-13 in the women’s final.

However, it was an anti-climax in the men’s summit clash as fourth-seeded Velavan Senthilkumar drubbed Abhishek Pradhan, seeded six, 11-7,11-8, 11-5 to bag the crown.

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Tanvi and Sunayna played a tactical match that was engaging and entertaining, with the former playing a neat first game and never looking back after racking up an 8-3 lead with nice delectable drops and strong play from the backcourt.

The latter hit back with strong defence and deft placements, both in front and at the back, to pocket the next two games.

Tanvi comfortably made it two games each at 11-7 with some outstanding drops, especially with double boast and, consistent play.

She took a handy 5-2 lead in the decider before the top seed made it 5-5, and it was neck and neck with both players producing their best.

Sunayna had two match points at 10-8 and one more at 12-11, but Tanvi held her nerves in such situations to bag her maiden PSA title.

She said it’s always tough when she plays with Sunayna.

“Last time, in the semi-finals of the Senior Nationals in 2019 in Chennai, Sunayna had a match point at 10-9 in the fifth and I went on to win," she said.

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It was, however, a one-sided affair in the men’s final.

Abhishek Pradhan, generally a fighter and a consistent player, was outplayed by Velavan.

The left-handed 23-year-old from Chennai didn’t give Abhishek any chance to attack and Velavan’s strong defence ensured that he didn’t get the space to attack.

“This is my second PSA title after the first one in Madison, the USA in 2018. Today, I didn’t allow him to prolong the rallies. My counter-attack was good,” said Velavan.

The winners took home $1140 each and 400 ranking points.

While Velavan was rock solid both in front and back in his 11-8, 14-12, 11-5 win over Abhishek Agarwal, Pradhan was impressive in his comfortable win over the 20-year-old Rahul Baitha.

The results (finals):

Men: S. Velavan beat Abhishek Pradhan 11-7,11-8, 11-5.

Women: Tanvi Khanna beat Sunayna Kuruvilla 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 15-13.

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