British Junior Open bronze medallist Neel Joshi and BU15 Sub-Junior National champion Tushar Shahani were among the names who progressed on Day 1 of qualifying at the 73rd Senior National Squash Championships at the Otters Club in Bandra, Mumbai on Tuesday.
Only eight slots in the men’s main draw are up for grabs and 256 players are vying for them. Five rounds of qualifying played over three days, will decide who all get those eight berths.
The first two rounds were completed on Tuesday and saw the likes of Shahani and Joshi advancing. Both put up confidence-boosting performances to start their campaigns on a bright note.
After his first round bye, the 15-year-old Shahani, seeded 17/32nd, overcame a one-game loss to beat Mehul Kumar 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 to enter Round 3. He will face Aman Kumbhani for a place in the fourth round.
The Mumbai lad has come into this tournament on the back of winning two consecutive BU17 events in May and June.
The 13-year-old Joshi, also from Maharashtra, showed great tenacity and resilience to come back from two games down and edge past Shashi Pandey, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9. He will be up against Gireesh Devadas in the third round.
Some of the other talented youngsters who made a winning start are Krish Kapur, Advait Adik, Aryaman Adik and Veer Chotrani.
The experienced top two seeds – Gaurav Nandrajog and Siddharth Suchde – also made it to the third round.