Velavan wins maiden PSA title

Velavan defeated the fourth seed Tristan Eysele of South Africa 7-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-4.

After winning the British Junior Open early last year, Velavan played in two PSA tournaments in South Africa before taking part in the Asian Championship in Chennai last year.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

India’s Velavan Senthilkumar defeated fourth seed Tristan Eysele of South Africa 7-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-4 to clinch his maiden PSA title in the $5,000 Madison Open event in Madison on Sunday.

The 20-year old from Salem, a former Asian junior champion and the British under-19 champion last year, entered the tournament as a qualifier. "It has been a pretty hard week for me from qualifying to the final. It has taken a toll on my body but I am happy and satisfied with the way I played," said Velavan to Sportstar.

After winning the British Junior Open early last year, Velavan played in two PSA tournaments in South Africa before taking part in the Asian Championship in Chennai last year. After moving to the States for college, this was only his second tournament on the circuit in a year and first appearance in the main draw after losing in the qualifying in a tournament in Rochester a fortnight ago.

"This win is a huge confidence booster for me as the last year I have been trying to settle down here and strike a balance between academics and squash."  Velavan, who is studying Statistics at the Columbia University, added that he trains about four hours a day.

Speaking about the tournament, he said, "Except for the first round in qualifying, all my opponents were ranked higher than me. The tournament was a really good experience for me and there was no pressure on me. Against these guys, I had nothing to lose."

Going forward, Velavan, who is ranked 255 in the world, will head to India next month and plans to play in PSA tour events in Asia and probably a few in Australia and New Zealand. "My only aim during the next four months is to train in Chennai and play in a few events and accumulate points and keep moving up the rankings."