The Girls U-12 title at the HCL Inter-School Tennis Challenge 2016 will be contested between Ananya from SBOA and Tentu Shrichandrakala from Sacred Heart Matriculation after they made it to the finale coming through their respective semifinals.
The first and third seeds will battle it out on Saturday to determine the eventual winner. Top seed Tentu had an easy win over Riya Dugar of Sishya 8-2 to book her place in the final. In the other semi, in the battle between the second and third seeds, Ananya saw off the challenge of her higher seeded opponent, Naga Roshne, winning 8-5 in the end.
The quarterfinals in both the Boys U-12 and U-14 categories were completed today as well. Top seed and All India ranked number four in the U-14s, Sandeep V.M. of St. Michael’s Academy, lived up to billing, beating Shyam Karthick of Kendriya Vidyalaya 7-0. His semi-final opponent will be the third seed, Sharaniyan S. from Anna Gem, who beat sixth seed Arjun Rathnam of Sishya 7-5 in a close encounter.
The other semifinal will be contested between fourth seed P. Hithaesh of Don Bosco and second seed K. Anirudh of DAV Senior Secondary. Both of them had easy 7-1 wins in their respective quarter-finals.
Sandeep and Anirudh, the one and two seeds, look to be heading towards a final clash, but let’s wait and watch, tomorrow might throw up a surprise.
Top seed in the Boys U-12 made it to the semifinals too, but not before a hugely challenging duel with Dhananjay Athreya, the match going to a tie-break. Third seed Ramanan Sekar will meet Tharakesh in the semis; he beat sixth seed G. Krishnapriyan 7-1 in his quarterfinal. S.A. Samuel Jones and Akash Karakatte rounded up the final four. The 1, 3, 4 and 10 seeds will be battling it out for the title.
Besides the singles, the team events also got underway in each of the U-14 categories.
Match of the day -  Tharakesh Ashokar beating  Dhananjay Athreya – 7-6 (5)
This was easily the best match of the day. Dhananjay as a player had shown great touch on the ball in this tournament. There is a smoothness in the way he hits his shots and even makes forays into the net to finish off the points. A very smooth stroke he has indeed.
He was facing the top seed in today’s quarter-final and the two put on quite the display. Tharakesh is very solid off both wings and his forehand packs more of a punch. That, in the end, was probably what separated the two, but it was one of the best matches of the tournament.
In the Boys U-14 Sandeep looks in a class of his own. Being amongst the top five juniors in his category in the country, there is a very marked difference between him and the other players. His footwork, a good indication of a really good player, is remarkable. His game is just much more developed all-round, not surprising, considering he has been playing tennis since the age of three.
It has been really appealing to watch him play and his toughest test looks likely to come from second seed Anirudh in a likely final.
What’s up tomorrow?
The finalists in the other categories except the Girls U-12 are yet to be decided. So it is semi-final day tomorrow at the HCL Inter-School Tennis Challenge 2016 in the singles as well as team events.
Top seed Sruthi Pandithurian against Joshika Premkumar in the first of the Girls U-14 semi-finals should be an intriguing clash while the team events also promise much competitiveness and even a bit of hostility, I might add, making for attractive watching.
This year’s tournament is being played between February 22nd and 27th with young boys and girls from around 50 schools participating, including prominent ones such as Sishya, Good Shepherd, Padma Seshadri and Kendriya Vidyalaya. The winners of the Delhi tournament, Suyash Gupta (Boys) and Smriti Singh (Girls) were sent to the SchuttlerWaske Tennis University, Frankfurt, Germany for a one-week, all expense paid training program. The winners of the Chennai tournament will also get an opportunity to go for a similar training program with an international academy.
Boys U-14 Singles - Quarterfinals
 Sandeep V.M. bt Shyam Karthick 7 – 0;  Hithaesh bt  Jack Marshall 7 – 1;  K Anirudh bt  Anish Frolin 7 – 1;  S. Sharaniyan bt  Arjun Rathnam 7 - 5
Boys U-12 Singles - Quarterfinals
 Aakash Karakatte bt Rohan Macheri 7 – 4;  Tharakesh Ashokar bt  Dhananjay Athreya 7 – 6;  Ramanan Sekar bt  G Krishnapriyan 7 – 5;  S. A. Samuel Jones bt  R. Danuswaran 7 - 2
Girls U12 Singles - Semifinals
 Ananya bt  Naga Roshne 8 – 5;  Tentu Shrichandrakala bt Riya Dugar 8 - 2