Press Articles of Raju Chainani (1999)


 India crash to 0-3 loss

Raju Chainani
Mid-day 27-7-2001

PENANG: Egypt took just 51 minutes to brush aside India 3-0 and enter the semi-finals of the ninth World Junior Women's Team Squash Championships.

Today, Egypt play hosts Malaysia who had a hard fought 2-1 win over Australia. The second semi-final features England and USA. The four-time champions beat Germany 3-0 while USA continued their giant-killing run with a 2-1 defeat of New Zealand.

Omneya Abdel Kawy dropped just six points in her 14-minute win over Joshna Chinappa. The best of the Indian trio was Supriya Balsekar who gave Sara Badra tremendous fight in the first game before bowing out 9-7, 9-1, 9-3 in 20 minutes. Amna El Tarabolsy cleaned up for the defending champions with a 9-4,9-4 win over Vaidehi Reddy but this was for the record books and will show that the rubber lasted 17 minutes.

" Egypt were a far superior side," said coach Rajiv Reddy. He was also concerned over Chinappa's form. "She has been off the boil in her last few matches. But I must say that Omneya was just too strong for her. We were pleased with Supriya's performance. We meet Australia tomorrow in the play-off for positions 5-8. It's going to be tough but our girls are under no pressure."


Curtains for India

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 7-8-1999

ANTWERP, August 7 JACELYN Hawkes rallied from a game down to defeat Vaidehi Reddy in the deciding rubber of New Zealand's tie against India in the 8th Championships. Hawkes might well have lost the second game where she trailed 5-7.

Instead, she forced her way back and won 5-9, 9-7,9-1, 9-2 after half an hour. This gave the Kiwis a 2-1 and it should be good enough to see them finish in 17th position overall, with India ending up 18th and Wales at the bottom of the pack.

Earlier, 15-year-old Catherine McLeod, had beaten Pia Abraham 10-9, 9-1, 9-3 in 28 minutes with the Indian unable to convert two game-ball in the opener. The Kiwis have former international Philippa Beans, winner of the world doubles title, to guide them and it made a huge difference. Auckland 1, Chennai 0 was the scoreline as Deepali Anvekar came on court.

The Mumbaite recovered from 4-6 in the first game and went on to beat Jennifer    Gearing   9-7,    9-2,   9-6. Anvekar won in 33 minutes.

Her opponent turns 19 the day after the tournament concludes and has just made the cut.

The tie hinged on Vaidehi Reddy's match with the 17-year-old from Auckland. Interestingly, Hawkes was born in Hong Kong where her mother has qualified as a world referee but has chosen Auckland as her home.

She has had a fair amount of international exposure and the three-year age difference told as the match progressed. "Our girls tried their best. It is their first world championships and they would have learnt a lot," said manager Rajiv Reddy.

Had the basic drill of playing the ball deep and to a good length been persevered with, the Indians may well


By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 7-10-1999

THE finger of suspicion points firmly in Cyrus Poncha's direction as the person responsible for the mess in the seedings and entries for the junior squash events held in the metropolis during the last couple of months.

Denying a deserving junior a place, using different guidelines for seedings when the facts arc there for all to see, putting out news of the event on the website which turns out to be different to what actually transpires and making the draw behind closed doors. These are some of the major issues which are threatening to disrupt the progress of the game.

Guess who was the tournament director in these events? Poncha. The explanation doing the rounds speak for themselves.

"It was a committee decision," is the easiest excuse. But who made up the committee? Were there any vested interests like the daughter of a committee member?

Joshna Chinappa was seeded at two in the girls under-19 and at three last week. Despite clear cut wins over the girl placed above her, she was denied her rightful place. Did Poncha bow to pressure? When the Chinappas asked him about the information put out on his website, he was silent on the matter. Maybe he had been watching the famous Anthony Hopkins film.

It is common knowledge that there are some major differences between the Chinappas and the Squash Racquets Federation of India. Joshna was dropped from the world junior team and one of tales of the unexpected was about, "Cyrus Poncha threatening to resign if she was included."

For a major junior event, such personal grievances must be left behind. Things should be transparent and all this cloak-and-dagger stuff needs to be put in the cold storage.

Poncha is apparently flavour-of-the-month with the SRFI. He's being persevered as coach despite some strange happenings.

His manner of functioning as tournament director at junior events has left a sour taste. Was it sheer coincidence that certain players found themselves in the same half of the draw? Rahil Shah was denied entry in the under-17 event because "Poncha felt he was not good enough". The sad part of it all is that Poncha apparently has the backing of a select few who did very little during their term of office but have suddenly acquired a PhD in bad-mouthing others and trying to disrupt the progress of the game in the metropolis.

Poncha was given a reprieve by the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra after he apologised for his earlier antics.

The latest round indicates things need to be addressed on a war-footing. Poncha should be made to answer for his actions and then shown the red card. And, the juniors who are dancing to his tune should be told in no uncertain terms that they must toe the line or face disciplinary action.

Diwali is still a month away. But the firecrackers are needed now.

India goes down again

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 4-8-1999

ANTWERP, August 4 INDIA foiled to make the French connection in their concluding Pool C tie at the 8th World Junior Girls squash championships,

Pia Abraham was a point away from putting the Indians ahead but squandered two matchballs in the fourth game, the second of them a generous "no-let" call putting her back in the service box. Adelaine Legeay did the Houdini act and after 49 minutes, there was a pall of gloom in the Indian camp as the score read 8-9,5-9, 9-0. 10-8, 9-4 Deepali Anvekar's fitness continues to be a question mark. Her right thigh had a strapping again and for her too, it was a case of missing out on gameball it happened in the second game and Leetita Estoumes went on to a 9-6, 10-8, 9-2 win after 45 minutes to seal India's fate.

Vaidehi Reddy had a similar experience. She led 3-0 and 5-3 in the opener against Stephanie Murat, had another chance at 3-0 in the second and made a late rally from 4-8 to level in the third. The mush wasn't there and the 18-year-old French number two's win, which took 27 minutes, rubbed salt to the wounds. Vaidehi, who turns 14 later this year, has time on her side

She was playing the rubber that was inconsequential. Perhaps the efforts of her colleagues had demoralised her.

Indian girls no match for Egypt

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 3-8-1999

ANTWERP, August 3 THREE very skillful young ladies from the land of the pharoahs made the Indians dance to their tune. Egypt kept their unbeaten slate in Pool C at the Eighth World Junior Girls squash championships with a 3-0 dismissal of debutants India, the tie lasting 45 minutes.

Engy Kheirullah, beaten semi-finalist in the individual event, made Deepali Anvekar look leaden-footed in her 9-3, 9-2, 9-1 victory which took 18 minutes. With Omneya Abdel Kawy, the Egyptian number one, being rested. Kheirullah was promoted and she did her job clinically.

Nesreen Nashaal. the Egyptian number four, played Supriya Balsekar. The Mumbaite had her first taste of the world team championship and found the going tough. Nashaat won 9-3, 9-0, 9-1 in 14 minutes and when she came oft court, she suggested, "Supriya is so cute, I wanted to play a little longer."

Iman El Amir had lost to Kheirullah in five games in the quarter-finals of the individual. She had Vaidehi Reddy as her opponent yesterday. It was an easy game for the Egyptian as the 9-1, 9-1. 9-3 score-line which took 13 minutes indicates. The Indians should take heart from the fact that Egypt made their international debut in 1993 and it has been after six years that they have come up with such a young, well-balanced and strong squad. The Egyptians have been training for this event since March and came her four days early to get acclimatised. It is a lesson for our team to learn.

India play France in their concluding Pool C tie today. They need to win to move into the play-offs for positions 9-16. A loss would put them in the IT-19 bracket with the wooden spoon on offer. There is little to choose between France and India, going on what has transpired in the ties each country has played so far. The Indians need to sort themselves out for this crucial tie. Hopefully the directions from the think-tank, which have so far been way off target, will come good today.



By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 29-1-1999

KUALA LUMPUR, January 29 THE Indian boys won both their ties on the opening day of the 9th Asian Junior Team Squash Championships. They beat Japan 3-0 in the morning but struggled against Sri Lanka, the tie ending dramatically with Abhijit Kukreja being disqualified at 8-8 in the decider for "vomitting on court and thereby making it unfit for play".

Parth Doshi and Anshul Manchanda won their respective matches in straight games but the boys from the Emerald Isle had sent a clear message to the Indians that they are no longer to be regarded as minnows. The girls had mixed fortunes, drubbed 003 by hosts Malaysia but came good in the evening with a 3-0 win over Japan.

Undoubtedly, the talking point this evening was Hirantha Gunasna's win over Kukreja. "Conduct match award" is the technical term used. In the decider, the Indian had worked his way from 0-5 to level at 6-6, saved two match balls at 7-8 and a forehand drop winner made it 8-8.

Sadly, he threw up and referee Yap Kok Four had no option but to enforce the rule. The Indian was furious and claimed it was just flem that came on court. He really has only himself to blame, having led 2-1 and looking to be in control.

Gunasena's 6-9, 9-5, 1-9, 9-6, 8-8 (match awarded) came in the inconsequential rubber and ended a two and a half hour tie. Never-before have the Lankans even India such problems.

Parth Doshi was impressive in his 9-5,9-0,9-0 win over Kavinda Cooray in the opening match but Anshul Manchanda was severely tested by Navin Samarasighe before he came through 9-4, 9-7, 9-5. The Indian's patience won him the day and it turned out to be very important for his team.

The Indian boys had begun their campaign in Pool A with a resounding 3-0 win over Japan. Between them, Parth Doshi, Abhijit Kukreja and Mihir Kapoor conceded just 14 points their Tokyo based opponents.

The Indian girls notched up their first success defeating Japan 3-0. Rhea Bhandare surprisingly dropped a game to Nagisa Miyagishima. The Mumbai girl had established a two game cushion but lost her way in the third. It was far from encouraging and she eventually won 9-4, 9-1, 3-9, 9-4 in 22 minutes. Pia Abraham defeated Mayo Kudoh 9-4, 9-0, 9-1 in 13 minutes and Joshna Chinappa brushed aside Eriko Chiba 9-2, 9-2, 9-0, her short stint on court lasting 14 minutes.

India rested their number one Bhandare  for  their morning encounter against defending champions Malaysia in the girls team round-robin. The Malaysians gave Asian champion Nicol David a breather but even then, they were too strong and experienced  for the young Indian team.

Abraham managed two points in her 11-minute stay on court, Joshna Chinappa lasted a minute longer against Tricia Chuah but Vaidehi Reddy  kept  Asian semi-finalist Daphine Ting going for     23     minutes before bowing out.

The Indians need to sort themselves out fairly quickly. Every coaching manual will tell you about the importance of warming down after a match. It therefore came as a surprise to see the boys coach Cyrus Poncha discussing matters with Doshi immediately after the India number one had come off court. The Indian junior, without a tracksuit top or any warm protection, was risking catching a cold. Team manager Bhuvaneshwari Kumari observed this and has suggested she would take corrective action.

Results Jr. boys (Pool A)- India beat Japan 3-0 (Parth Doshi bt Yasunori Ishwata 9-1, 9-5, 9-0; Abhjit Kukreja bt Tomonori Minagawa 9-0, 9-0, 9-2; Mihir Kapoor bt Goh Kobayashi 9-1, 9-4, 9-1). India bt Sri Lanka 2-1; Sri Lanka bt South Korea 2-1; Pakistan bt Japan 3-0,

Jr. girls (round-robin)- Malaysia bt India 3-0 (Cheryl David bt Pia Abraham 9-1,9-0,9-1; Tricia Chuah bt Joshana Chinappa 9-0. 9-1, 9-1; Daphine Ting bt Vaidehi Reddy 9-3. 9-1,9-1). India bt Japan 3-0; Singapore bt Japan 3-0; Hong Kong bt Sri Lanka's Malaysia bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Hong Kong bt Singapore 2-1.



By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 27-7-1999
ANTWERP, July 27

INDIA'S number one Deepali Anvekar was comprehensively beaten by Nicola Clark (England) in the second round of the 10th World Junior Squash Championships yesterday.

The 18 year-old England lass, ranked at number four in her country, won 9-3, 9-0,9-2 in 28 minutes to bring to an end the Indian challenge in the main draw of the individual event. Anvekar started well and led 3-1 in the opener.

She could manage just two points from this stage and the result was really never in doubt. Clark kept up a tidy length and the Indian, playing with strappings on both thighs found it difficult to cope.

Anvekar's colleagues Pia Abraham, Vaidehi Reddy and Supriya Balsekar were involved in plate matches yesterday afternoon. Balsekar lost 9-6,9-4, 9-5 to Kira Petersen (Denmark) but must be kicking herself for allowing a 5-1 lead in the first game to slip through. Worse was to follow as the petite Mumbaite was 4-1 ahead in the second and 4-0 in the third.

The Chennai duo of Pia Abraham and Vaidehi Reddy won hard fought encounters, both matches going the distance. Abraham beat Adelaine Legeay (France) 8-10, 9-4, 6-9, 9-7, 9-5 in 57 minutes. She idled when in front and it very nearly proved costly as she lost the opener after having led 8-6 and in the fourth, allowed Legeay to fight back from 1-7 to 6-8 before closing the game with a forehand crosscourt. It was 5-5 in the decider before Abraham put together three winners, the last a tight backhand, ending this match.

Roddy's opponent was  15 year-old Lauren Selby.

Reddy did well to win the first game, having trailed 6-8. She lost the second mainly due to her tentative play and the pattern continued in the third. But, she had a very easy time thereafter as Selby tired. The young lady from Brentwood, Essex was huffing and puffing. The former came through 9-8, 5-9, 3-9, 9-2, 9-1 after 50 minutes.

The main draw of the individual event is down to the last 32 stage. The Asian challenge is very noticeable as four Malaysians and Akanksha Hazari, Hong Kong's number one and Indian national under-19 champion, remain in the thick of the action.

Pia Abraham in quarters

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 22-7-1999

ANTWERP, July 29 PIA Abraham recovered her composure, saved two match balls and went on to defeat Scotland's Sara McDonald 9-6, 7-9, 9-3,4-9,10-9 in 61 minutes to enter the quarter-finals of the Plate Event at the 10th World Junior Girls Squash Championship.

She looked in command at 8-4 in the decider but almost blew it. It was a very creditable win for the Chennai lass, who has improved with every match. Her colleagues, Deepali Anvekar and Supriya Balsekar were at the receiving end Australia's Felicity Good all beat Anvekar 6-9,9-0,9-3, 9-2 in the (lassie Plate with the Indian unable to maintain her initial advantage.

The discipline was missing and the 16-year-old Aussie won quite comfortably in the end. Ireland's Siobahn Parker was too good for Balsekar in the Consolation Plate, the 9-4,9-0,9-0 scoreline a clear reflection of what happened on court.

The Indian quartet has been involved in matches everyday so far and Abraham remains as its lone survivor. They badly need the practice and the acclimitisation with the team event due to start on Sunday.

In the main draw of the individual event, there were dazzling performances by Malaysia's Nicol David and Leong Siu Lynn, the number one and three seeds respectively as they eased their way into the quarter-finals.

David defeated England's Jenny Duncalf 9-2, 9-1, 9-1 in 15 minutes. David had beaten Jenny Duncalf twice at the British Junior Open, but their last encounter went to four games. It was a situation the top seed wanted to set right and she did it in devastating style.

"She was all psyched up for the match. She hardly put a foot wrong. Nicol has not had any pressure on her at this event. In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, she reached the quarters but it was a different situation," said Malaysian coach Richard Glanfield.

David has lost a total of just 13 points in her three matches so far. In today's quarter-final, she plays Canada number one Runa Reta. Reta's parents are from East Africa and she has her roots. "Somewhere in India. I don't really know where." Reta, winner of the US and Canadian Junior Opens, defeated Nicol David's elder sister, Cheryl 9-7,9-4,9-4.

Cheryl had fought back well from 4-6 to inch ahead at 7-6 in the opener and had briefly led 4-2 in the third. But the stronger Canadian had the answers and for her efforts, comes up against another David today.

The 1996 Asian seniors champion Leong Siu Lynn raced to a 9-6, 9-0, 9-2 win over England's Amina Helai in 22 minutes. Siu Lynn 's backhand was working like a charm as she ran up a 5-2 lead in the opener. A couple of loose strokes and a bruise on the right leg, saw the scores level at 5-5. Thereafter, the Malaysian picked up the pace and left no doubt over her superiority.

Narain, Narain!

Mid-day 21-11-1999

MUMBAI, November 20 CAPTAIN Navneet Narain won the Indian Express sponsored CCI Open Squash Championships of Western India with a 9-6, 5-9, 9-4, 9-2 scoreline against Major Rajdeep Brar. It turned out to he a battle of attritional with Narain proving to he the fitter. Brar, five times winner of the Services championships, also competes in the over-35 events and hard as he tried, it was his younger opponent who went on to become the 56th winner of this famous trophy.

With no disrespect to these two who showed they were the best in the field, the standard of squash this week is a far cry from the days that some well known Armymen like K.K.Hazari, K.S.Jain, Pran Handa, M.S.Swaminathan, Raj Manchanda, Narjit Singh and V K Paul graced the CCI courts. It was in the early 1980s that Manchanda won and since then, the Services really haven't thrown up somebody in the same class. 

Mekhala Subedar (Women's Open), Junaid Nathani (under-17) and Jay Bhagat (under-11) had won their respective events at the HSBC Maharashtra State Championships last week. They made it an encore at the CCI courts though Subedar and Nathani were extended. The Deolali lass dropped the opener to Mumbai's Deepali Anvekar but the buck stopped there as she came through 7-9, 9-2, 9-1,9-3 in 55 minutes.

Nathani needed five games to stave off Neeraj Tomar in the under-17 final.

His two game cushion was neutralised and he had to dig deep to win the fifth. Nathani, the top seed, eventually prevailed 9-5,9-4,5-9,7-9, 9-6 in a match that lasted just over an hour and a half. Nathani was involved in the under-19 final too. The efforts of his long match with Tomar took their toll and his compatriot Mihir Kapoor went on to a comfortable 9-6.9-4. 9-1 win.

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