Abhishek Pradhan became a pro last year when he was 25-years old. Busy working in the pharmaceutical company of his father, the Mumbaikar realised that he was missing squash when he took the plunge professionally in 2019. He did justice to his huge decision when he reached the final of the PSA Challenger Tour in Jaipur early this month.

Ranked 170 in the world and seeded second, Abhishek played a compact game to defeat his State-mate and 19-year-old Rahul Baitha in the men’s first round (pre-quarterfinals) of the SRFI-77th Senior National squash championships at the ISA courts on Wednesday.

Later, the top seeds in men and women’s sections, Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa, reached the quarterfinals with ease. While Saurav scripted a facile 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 win over Sandeep Jangra of Services, Joshna thumped Madhya Pradesh’s Radhika Rathore 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.

Rahul, who took to senior pro squash only six months ago, did match Abhishek (6’ 1”) with his reach and drops. The first two games were close with Abhishek and Rahul stretching each other to the limits. At 9-9 in the first game, Rahul’s drop hit the tin and the next point, Abhishek was awarded a stroke.

Similarly in the second game, the scores read 9-9. Abhishek won the next two points — one when a stroke was awarded to him and the other when Rahul’s drop hit the tin. The third game turned out to be one-sided after Abhishek took a 10-3 lead.