Junior squash is set to sizzle as Jaipur Junior Open begins in a few days in the state which boasts of the likes of 16-time Senior National champion Bhuvneshwari Kumari. The 2-6 September premier tournament, given a four-star rating by the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI), will provide the perfect opportunity to the 363 participants to gauge themselves against the country’s best and improve their skills further.
Here's a preview of the ten categories of the tournament:
GU19 - Girls Under 17 champion Akanksha Salunkhe will be one of the players to watch at this tournament. The 16-year-old Salunkhe returns with more experience and more confidence in the Girls Under 19 category this time. In these 12 months, the Goa girl has conquered the three-star ISA Junior Open in the GU17 level as well as the four-star NSCI Junior Open in the GU19 level. She was also one of the architects of India’s entry into the quarter-finals at the recently-concluded WSF World Junior Squash Championship in Eindhoven.
Salunkhe will get tough competition from the country’s No. 1 player in the GU19 category – Adya Advani who is the top seed. The Delhi girl has been impressive in 2015 as she captured both the GU19 ISA Junior Open and the Bengal Junior Open. Advani will surely be looking to stamp her authority and wrest the momentum away from the Goa player.
GU15 - Another girl who has been on a roll is Mumbai player and GU15 top seed Navmi Sharma who will be trying to successfully defend her title. In July, Navmi reached the final of both the Pioneer Junior Open in Cologne and the Dutch Junior Open in Amsterdam, besides emerging victorious at the NSCI Junior Open just a few days back. Second-seeded Samita Sivakumar will be her biggest challenger, having reigned supreme at the Bengal Junior Open and the ISA Junior Open.
GU11 - 10 year-old Yuvna Gupta has been in rollicking form and is expected to dominate the GU11 category. Her title triumphs at the Matunga Gymkhana Junior Squash Open, the ISA Junior Open and the NSCI Junior Open totally validate the fact that she is one of the best upcoming talents.
GU13 - In the GU13 category, Bengal Junior Open champion and Asian Junior Squash Championship bronze medallist Megha Bhatia and ISA Junior Open and NSCI Junior Open winner Ananya Dabke will be battling it out for the title. They are the top two seeds in this section.
GU17 - The top seed in the GU17 category, Sunayna Kuruvilla who finished as runner-up at the ISA Junior Open, will be hoping to go one better at the Jaipur Club.
BU19 – Among the boys, BU19 top seed Aishwarya Singh will be hoping to turn around his fortunes in the Pink City. His recent results at the NSCI Junior Open and the ISA Junior Open have not been satisfactory and this would be the perfect place to aim for better results. But he has to contend with the in-form Uttar Pradesh player Ranjit Singh who triumphed at the NSCI Junior Open.
BU17 - In BU17, second seed Aryaman Adik will hope to erase his NSCI Junior Open final defeat and look to top the podium at the Jaipur Junior Open. However, his path to the title will not be smooth with Yash Bhargava in the draw. Bhargava, who is the top seed, claimed the Bengal Junior Open in July and will be trying to replicate that result.
BU15 - Second seed in the BU15 category, Rahul Baitha will be looking desperately to end his string of runner-up results this season. His task will, however, be cut out as top-seeded Tushar Shahani has been imperious lately. The 14-year-old from Maharashtra scooped up the title at the Dutch Junior Open and the ISA Junior Open, besides finishing second at the Pioneer Junior Open and clinching a bronze at the Asian Juniors. No doubt, most of the attention will be on this youngster in this section.
BU13 - The finalists at the Bengal Junior Open – champion Navaneeth Prabhu S and runner-up Kanhav Nanavati are the top two seeds in the BU13 category and will be vying for the title at Jaipur. Navaneeth is heading to the Pink City fresh from his silver medal-winning campaign at the Asian Junior Squash Championship and will be high on confidence.
BU11 - After outshining everyone else at the ISA Junior Open and the Bengal Junior Open, BU11 top seed Paarth Ambani faced a stumbling block at the NSCI Junior Open. The Mumbai boy will surely be looking to come back strongly at the Jaipur Junior Open.