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Squash : India go down to USA

Cyrus Poncha
589   //    30 Jul 2011, 11:25 IST

The hosts and favourites to make the final of the World Junior Women’s Squash Championship for a first time got off to a great start in the first semi-final as Amanda Sobhy won at the top string, beating Anaka Alankamony in straight games, but it wasn’t as comfortable as that sounds. Things were tight in both of the first two games, but it was the American who had the necessary extra at the end of both, taking them 11/8, 11/8. The opening of the third was close too, but from 4-all the end came quickly as Sobhy powered in shots which were either outright winners or forced errors from her opponent.

India levelled though as Saumya Karki put in a really strong performance against Olivia Blatchford, and it was the American who looked to be feeling the pressure more. A good lead in the first was converted 11/7, and Karki moved 6/1 ahead in the second. Then the nerves hit the Indian, and a succession of errors, forced and unforced, brought Blatchford back into it, 8-all. Karki settled just in time to double her lead 11/9. The third was close all the way, and 9-all it was again, but a tin from Blatchford and a stroke down the middle of the court and we were in for a decider.

And what a decider it was, you couldn’t have asked for more really. Hayley Mendez squeezed home in the first, from 8-all to 11/8, but then went tentative as Aparajitha Balamurukan upped the pace and started to dominate in the second, taking it 11/4. Either of the third and fourth games could have gone either way (if that makes sense!) –  Aparajitha led for most of the third but Haley took the last three points for 11/9 to regain the lead, and in the fourth the lead changed hands time after time, but once again it was the American who took the final three points for 11/9 again and the crowd erupted.

Amanda Sobhy 
3-0 Anaka Alankamony   11/8, 11/8, 11/5 (21m)
Olivia Blatchford 0-3 Saumya Karki 7/11, 9/11, 9/11 (28m)
Haley Mendez 3-1 Aparajitha Balamurukan   11/8, 4/11, 11/9, 11/9 (42m)

Cyrus Poncha
Cyrus Poncha is currently the Indian squash coach. Originally from Bombay, he is based in Chennai, and coaches at the Indian Squash Academy.
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