Indian girls finish seventh
Harshit Kaur Jawanda and Lakshya Ragavendran ensured that India signed off on a happy note by beating New Zealand 2-1 to finish seventh in the World Junior Women's Team Squash Championships.
India staged a remarkable comeback Saturday after Sachika Ingale lost the first singles to Abbie Palmer 11-4, 11-1, 5-11, 9-11, 3-11, as Jawanda beat Eleanore Epke 11-6,11-5, 4-11, 11-8, to tie the teams. Lakshya overcame Rebecca Barnett 9-11, 16-14, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9, in the deciding third singles to clinch the tie for India.
The Indian girls found the perfect way to bury the ghosts of Friday's tight loss against Canada. Sachika was stung by an incredible turnaround from Palmer, but Harshit and Lakshya ensured there was no repeat of the previous match.
Sachika, who has played well through the individual and team championships, was first up on court against Palmer with both teams looking for a morale boosting win to set the tone for this tie.
Sachika was irresistible to begin with, utterly dominating the exchanges and hardly conceding a point to the Kiwi youngster. The Indian bagged the first two games for the loss of just five points and looked set for an easy win.
However, Palmer, who has been lethargic in the first two games, responded with gusto, running down everything and playing some exceptional shots to win the third game and get herself a foothold in the match.
Sachika took a 5-2 lead in the fourth, but that was as good as it got for the Indian No.3 as Palmer saved her best for the last and left her opponent shell-shocked in stealing the match 3-2.
India's top junior Harshit once again demonstrated her growing maturity in using short kills and drops to make the lanky Epke bend for her shots and stretched the Kiwi to all corners of the court.
Harshit's tactics paid rich dividends as she raced away to a two-game lead, but Epke came back strongly with some excellent drops of her own in the third and reduced the deficit.
In a closely fought fourth game, the scores were tied at 8-8 and Harshit held her nerve to close out the match and draw India level with New Zealand.
Lakshya took on the mantle of closing out the match against Barnett. It was not such a great start for the Indian, losing the first game 9-11 to 2012 New Zealand Junior Open champion.
However, Lakshya found herself trailing in the second game as well and was in serious danger of going 0-2 down but clawed back and snatched the game 16-14.
The Indian had a 10-5 lead in the third, but frittered away the advantage as Barnett reeled off seven points in a row to take the game.
Lakshya struggled to keep the lead once again in the fourth game, but somehow held on to win 12-10 and setup an intriguing decider. The final game proved to be a real humdinger with the momentum switching sides setting up an exciting climax for both the teams.
Lakshya led 5-2 only for Barnett to reel off five points on the bounce for a 7-5 lead. The scores were level at 9-9 and the tie came down to a battle of wills. Lakshya won the next two points to clinch the match and tie for India.
Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha said: "Overall, it was good event for the Indians. Obviously, I would have liked for us to do better. However, it was an incredible learning experience for the rapidly developing squad and I am happy with the performances."
(Posted on 28-07-2013)