India's emerging young squash player Velavan Senthilkumar did himself and his country proud by winning the U-19 title in the Asian Junior Individual squash championship here on Saturday.
The Chennai lad, who trains at the Indian Squash Academy (ISA), is also the second Indian to win this title, the earlier one being Ravi Dixit in 2010. Incidentally Dixit was also a trainee at the ISA.
In what was a long drawn final, Velavan came back from two games down to beat the Jordanian Mohammad Al-Sarraj 12-14, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7. In terms of seedings, Velavan being second and Sarraj fourth, this was an expected outcome but the Jordanian had in the semi-final accounted for the top seed and reigning world junior champion Ng Eain Yow of Malaysia and looked in fine nick for more.
According to coach Bala Murugan, Velavan took time to settle, eventhough his fighting qualities surfaced early. It was only after losing good ground that he changed tactics and decided to raise the pace of the match. Keeping the rallies long and laborious for the rival, the Indian made the Jordanian work hard and the resultant tiredness told on his game. Velavan was a different player once he tasted success in the third game.
A delighted national coach Cyrus Poncha, said in Chennai that the succeess was a great moment for Indan squash and a proof that the structured programme at the ISA brings up quality players. “I have been expecting this from Velvan and he has lived upto our expectations with his tremendous victory. It is a proud moment,”he said.
For India, which had sent 31 players in various age categories, there were two more medal winners in Tushar Shahani who won a silver medal in boys'U-17 and Yash Fadte who earned a bronze by finishing semi-finalist in boys' U-15 section. Tushar who was top seeded went down to Pakistan's eight seeded player AbbasZeb 7-11, 8-11, 16-14, 7-11.
Boys: : U-19: (semi-final) :Velavan Senthil Kumar bt Ling To Yu (HK) 6-11, 11-1,11-8, 11-6; (quarterfinal): Ng Eain Yow (Mas) bt Abhay Singh 11-9, 11-5, 11-6; U-17.; Velavan Senthil kumar bt Alireza Shameli (Iran) 11-6, 11-4, 11-8; U-17 (semi-final) Tushar Shahani bt Ho Ka Hei (HK) 11-4, 11-7, 11-7; (quarterfinal): Tushar Shahani bt Mohammad Reza Jafarzadeh (Iran) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8; U-15: (semi-final): Danial Nurhaqiem Sharul Izham (Mas) bt Yash Fadte 11-7, 3-11, 11-7, 11-1; (quarterfinal): Yash Fadte bt Lee Yung Yii Duncan (MAS) 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4; To Wai Lok (HK)bt Neel Joshi 11-3, 13-11, 11-9; Danial Sharul Izham (MAS) bt Veer Chotrani 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6; U-13: quarterfinal: Andrik Lim (MAS) bt Yuvraj Wadhwani 11-6, 11-1, 11-5.
Girls: quarterfinal: U-19: Sivasangiri Subramaniam (MAS) bt Sunayna Kuruvilla 11-5, 11-6, 11-4; Foo Yuk Han Zoe (MAS) bt Akanksha Salunkhe 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5; U-13: Wong Po Yui Kirstie (HK) bt Aishwarya Khubchandani 11-6, 11-8, 11-7; Sehveetrra Kumar (MAS) bt Diksha Aurobindo 11-2, 11-3, 11-1