Chennai, Apr 25 (PTI) The focus will be on Indian players Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik when the 19th Jio-Asian Individual Squash Championship begins, here tomorrow.Also Read - Highlights India vs England 1st Test, Day 1: Bumrah, Shami Dominate as India Take Opening Day's Honours
Ghosal and Chinappa, seeded second in the men’s and women’s draws, will be eyeing a breakthrough in front of home fans. Also Read - Mumbai Rains: Death Toll Rises to 31 in Landslide, House-collapse Incidents; NDRF Ends Search & Rescue Ops
Also, the focus will be on local lad Velavan Senthilkumar, who made two PSA Tour finals recently. Also Read - Coronavirus in India News And Updates: Take Action Against Those Engaging in Black Marketing of Oxygen and Medicines, HC tells Delhi Govt
The withdrawal of Pakistani players from the tournament owing to visa related issues has taken away some sheen from the tournament but the organisers are confident that the fans will be able to witness quality squash from a classy field.
Hong Kong players Max Lee and Annie Au, the top-seeds in the men’s and women’s singles respectively, hit the practice courts yesterday and would get their campaigns underway with second-round matches after being given opening round byes.
According to Achraf el Karagui, who has recently taken over as the SRFI coach, the Indian team had a two-week camp in preparation for the championship and looks in good touch.
He also said that Ghosal was the host nation’s best bet in the men’s event and had been working hard in the past few weeks.
He felt the tournament presents a chance for the home team players to break the Asian Championship jinx and win title(s) for the first time.
Among the women, the coach said Chinappa and Pallikal had a good chance in the absence of defending champion Nicol David of Malaysia. The former was coming off a quarterfinal showing in the World Championship in Egypt recently and looked in good form.
Chinappa, on her part, sounded cautious about her chances and said she was taking it one match at a time.
“I am happy to be playing at home and it would be nice to have a lot of support. I have been in good form and hope to do well,” she said.
For the rest of the Indian players, the event provides an opportunity to gain exposure, especially the juniors like Senthilkumar, Aditya Jagtap, Sachika Ingale among others.
The Hong Kong duo of Lee and Au will fancy their chances but Malaysian Mohammed Nafiizwan Adman and India’s Ghosal and Chinappa are capable of springing surprises, said Major S Manual, director of coaching, Malaysia.
The tournament’s organising chairman Debendranath Sarangi, who is the president of Squash Rackets Federation of India, and championship director Cyrus Poncha, said final touches were being given to the portable all-glass court at the Express Avenue mall, where some matches would be played.
Apart from the trophies for the men’s and women’s winners, there is also a diamond pendant and a bracelet for the best Indian male and female player respectively.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.