It turned out to be a day of contrasting fortunes for the two Indian players in action at the Gillen Markets Irish Open held at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin on Wednesday as Mahesh Mangaonkar advanced to the quarter-finals while 18-year-old Harshit Jawanda exited in the first round.
It was not an easy affair, though, for the 58th ranked Mangaonkar as he needed five gruelling games to subdue the 85th ranked local hope Arthur Gaskin, 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 3-11, 11-3. The match lasted 67 minutes.
The eighth-seeded Indian has been in good form of late and won the Sekisui Open in March, besides reaching the semi-finals in his most recent tournament at the North of Scotland Open. Brimming with confidence, he started the match on a very positive note as he grabbed the first two games with some determined display of attacking squash.
But, buoyed by the home crowd, Gaskin soon rebounded as he started prolonging the rallies. The change of tactics startled Mahesh due to which he lost his focus and allowed the Irishman to level the contest at two games apiece.
In the decider, the 31-year-old could not keep up with the energy of his younger rival as the momentum shifted back in favour of the 22-year-old Indian. Mahesh soared to a 6-0 lead and quickly wrapped up the match to set up a meeting with second seed and World No. 43 Laurens Jan Anjema in the quarter-finals.
Harshit falters after a great fight
In her maiden overseas trip as a professional, India’s U-19 national girls’ champion Harshit Jawanda put up a spirited fight in the opening round but it was not enough to secure a win. The 18-year-old, who had qualified for the main draw of this event, pocketed the first game but fourth-seeded Englishwoman Alison Thomson came back to clinch the victory, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 in 35 minutes.
This was surely a great learning experience for the talented teenager and will hopefully act as a springboard to success in the future.