India finish 5th after outstanding show

Aishwarya Khubchandani

Kuala Lumpur: Indian girls finished on a creditable note, upsetting USA to secure the 5th place in the World junior women's team championship which concluded here today.

In the previous edition when the two countries had met for the 5th place, USA had the upperhand. However on this occasion things turned around and this was because of some outstanding displays by Aishwarya Khubchandani and Yoshna Singh. After the number one player Sanya Vats fell fighting to the higher ranked Marina Stefanoni, Indian camp had looked a touch disheartened. But Yoshna Singh, the number three player came on next and played steadily and great confidence to topple Caroline Spahr. Using her services to good effect and hitting some great lengths, Yoshna outdid her opponent and restored parity in scores. Everything now was in the hands of 15-year old Aishwarya Khuchandani's, playing her first world championship and she played a solid match. A little nervous initially but Aishwarya got over that in quick time to beat Olivia Robinson who had been playing very well in this Championship. Aishwarya used her variations, lengths and flicks to great effect to win her match and help India beat the higher ranked USA. Incidentally this is the fourth time out of the 10 appearances in the World Championship that India had reached the top five.

An elated Cyrus Poncha, the Secretary General of SRFI who witnessed the match said, “it was oustanding performance,”adding that “overall it was heartwarming show by the Indians. First Veer Chotrani joined one among the very few repeat few Indians to have reached the quarters in the Individual phase of the Championship. Then the girls team, seeded 6th, showed its mettle by beating higher ranked USA to take the fifth place. One thing to note, and I wish to share , is that these three girls are eligible for the next Championship, two years from now and we are certainly going to work hard to ensure we win a medal there,” he said while expressing happiness that things are truly looking up for Indian squash.

The result: For 5th place: India bt USA 2-1 (Sanya Vats lost to Marina Stefanoni 3-11, 12-10, 2-11, 4-11; Aishwarya Khubchandani bt Olivia Robinson 11-6, 5-11, 11-7, 11-4; Yoshna Singh bt Caroline Spahr 11-6, 11-7, 12-10)