29 October 2014, Chennai: Asian Games Medallist Dipika Pallikal won her second consecutive title at the final destination of the JSW Indian Squash Challenger Circuit in Chennao as she defeated Misaki Kobayashi in a 35-minute game 3-0 (11-6,11-2,11-8). Joining her at the podium was now triple Circuit winner Harinder Pal Sandhu. Harinder got the better of Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0 (11-8,11-3,11-6) in 42 minutes.
As the finals of the JSW Indian Squash Challenger Circuit, Chennai began, crowd favourite Dipika Pallikal gained an early lead, taking the scores 3-2 in the first few minutes of the game against Misaki Kobayashi. As the lead extended, Misaki started to feel the pressure, ending a short rally with a shot into the tin, taking the tally to 5-2 in Pallikal’s favour. Seemingly nerved, Kobayashi missed an easy return and passed the serve to Pallikal giving her a 2-point advantage. Moving ahead, as the game came to a close, Pallikal surged ahead winning the first game 11-6. The second game began in a similar fashion as Pallikal took the first point yet again with a nice corner shot 1-0. A couple of lovely boasts by the top-seed Pallikal soon sent Kobayashi diving to retrieve thereby giving the former a lead of four points. Ultimately after a long, nice last rally Pallikal recovered from a counterdrop by Kobayashi and sent it deep past her opponent taking the game 11-2. Leading two-love after the first two game an encore of a circuit winning performance by Dipika seemed inevitable as inspite of Kobayashi keeping pace better, three lets in a row stall the game and Pallikal gives a gentle drop just outside of Kobayashi’s reach to level the scores 3-3. Over the next few moments both the players played the basics in this rally until corner drop from Pallikal made it 7-6, taking her a step closer staking a claim on the Circuit yet again. Finally as Kobayashi goes for a drop only to hit the tin, Pallikal takes game and match 3-0 (11-6,11-2,11-8) in in 35 minutes.
Delighted to win her second consecutive circuit title Dipika said “Every win is special to me and since I won this at home, this is all the more special to me. I have worked on my game quite a bit and am delighted that all my efforts have yielded positive results.”
After a roaring applause from the crowd, Harinder Pal Sandhu put his best stroke forward as he prepared himself for his third title at the JSW Indian Squash Challenger Circuit, this time competing against Egyptian stalwart Karim Ali Fathi. Both players traded points over the next few minutes until Harinder decided to move ahead 7-4, thanks to a couple of tactical errors by Fathi. As the game progressed some brilliant play by both makes made for lightening quick play until Harry moved further ahead and won the game 11-8 with a lovely drop. The second game began with Harry making his winning intentions very clear, scoring the first four point without Fathi scoring a single one. Determined to make this a quick game ha lead 6-1, giving Fathi plenty to think about. Over the next few minutes though Fathi got in a nice counterdrop, Sandhu still put it deep, just out of his reach, extending his lead to five points. With the crowd backing him through every stroke, Sandhu won his second game 11-3. Come the third game, Fathi looked better in the front court as he lead the game 2-3, both the gentlemen going head to head, until Harry put the pressure back on Fathi 7-5. Finally it was Harry who won his third Circuit title with three straight games 11-8, 11-3, 11-6.
A jubilant Harry said “This is the first time that I have played so many tournaments back to the back and though it has been exhausting, it has been equally rewarding. Playing at home comes with a lot of pressure, but with the kind of support I’ve enjoyed throughout has been overwhelming and has made this victory closer to my heart.”
Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Sandhu were all smiles as they received the trophies from Mr. Gopal Hosur, Vice President of Corporate Relations, JSW Group
Photo Credit: Nitesh Square