Joshna Chinappa, Mahesh Mangaonkar and Kush Kumar shine at Victorian Open
Joshna Chinappa was the shining star of Indian squash at the recently-concluded 2015 Victorian Open as she captured the $15k event held in Melbourne. Apart from the experienced Chinappa, Mahesh Mangaonkar and young Kush Kumar also made their way to the latter stages of the tournament.
Here’s looking at their progress through the Melbourne event –
Joshna Chinappa – The 28-year-old, who clinched her 14th National Championships crown just a few days back, was on a rampage at the Victorian Open. She started with a convincing 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 victory over Australian Selena Shaikh. She then followed it up with a grinding four-game (11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9) win over the seventh-seeded Megan Craig, giving ample evidence of her fighting spirit and mental toughness.
In the semis, Chinappa reigned over the eighth-seeded Christine Nunn 11-7, 11-5, 11-9. In the summit clash, she produced a brilliant display over the second seed Line Hansen of Denmark and beat her 11-5, 11-4, 11-9. Having been beaten by the Dane just a week back at Kooyong, Chinappa must have found this victory special. This is her 10th title at the PSA/WSA level. Amazingly, the Indian ace has won her last five finals at this level since grabbing the Chennai Open title in 2012.
Sachika Ingale – 20-year-old Sachika Ingale is one of the most promising youngsters of Indian squash. She proved her talent once more with a strong 11-7, 12-10, 12-14, 12-10 victory over Danielle Fourie of New Zealand in the first round.
Ingale, who is now ranked 94th, went down 7-11, 2-11, 2-11 to sixth seed Amanda Landers-Murphy of New Zealand in Round 2.
Mahesh Mangaonkar – Mangaonkar, who has been searching for consistency since the beginning of the year, reached the semi-finals of the Contrex Challenge Cup in July. The World No. 50 built on the momentum by making it to the last-four stage of the Victorian Open as well. The 21-year-old began his campaign with an easy 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 triumph over wildcard Thomas Calvert. He then had another straight-game (11-5, 11-6, 11-7) win over Joshua Larkin to advance to the quarters.
Mahesh had an important confidence-boosting four-game (13-15, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7) victory over Tasmanian Open runner-up Jaymie Haycocks to progress into the semis. He came up against top seed and eventual winner Ryan Cuskelly and succumbed to a 6-11, 6-11, 6-11 defeat.
Kush Kumar – 19-year-old Kumar has been much talked about recently for his immense talent. With a stellar junior career in which he grabbed the World Junior Championships individual bronze, Kumar has been making rapid strides in the senior circuit. Having annexed the Tasmanian Open one week back, Kush continued his rich vein of form at the Victorian Open.
101 places separate Kumar and experienced Nasir Iqbal, who was the second seed at the Melbourne event. But the fearless Indian lad put up a spectacular display to get the better of Iqbal 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7 in the first round. The win, which Kumar later described as the best win of his career, speaks volumes of his maturity.
In Round 2, Kumar beat Kashif Shuja 8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-3 before going down 5-11, 7-11, 9-11 in the quarter-finals to sixth seed Steven Finitsis.
The Victorian Open gave Indian squash players a good platform to showcase their talent. The event was a good trial for the Australian Open, which is scheduled to be played this week.