After upsetting seventh seeds Ireland in the first qualifying round of the 2012 WSF Women’s World Team Championship in Nimes, tenth seeds India clinched pole position in Pool G after despatching Argentina 3/0 in today’s final qualifying round of the biennial World Squash Federation event taking place in France for the first time.
The event boasts a record entry of 26 nations and is being staged simultaneously at both the eight-court Club des Costières and La Parnasse Arena where, for the first time ever, action is taking place on three all-glass show courts.
Squad number three Anaka Alankamony led the way for India, beating Maria Eugenia Bonilla 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 – before second string Joshana Chinappa took just 19 minutes to overcome Cecilia Cerquetti 11-6, 11-3, 11-4.
In the final match, top-ranked Argentinean Antonella Falcione battled hard against India’s star Dipika Pallikal - but world No13 Pallikal had the edge, defeating her opponent ranked more than 100 places below 11-8, 11-7, 11-8.
“It’s huge,” said Indian National Coach Cyrus Poncha when asked the significance of the success in the event so far. “Our aim was to top the pool – and making the quarter-finals is our goal.
Incredibly, this is only India’s third appearance in the women’s world championship, with an 18th place finish in their debut in 2002 and 11th last year.
“Last year it was a first for us to finish in the top eight in the men’s world team championship – so if we can make the top eight here this year it will be a huge achievement and another significant step forward for Indian Squash,” concluded Poncha.
Teenager Olivia Fiechter put the 12th seeds into the lead with an 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 win over Japan’s third string Mayu Yamazaki. But it was an impressive performance from senior squad newcomer Sabrina Sobhy that ensured victory when the 15-year-old beat experienced Chinatsu Matsui, aged 35, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8 in 46 minutes.
Japan gained a consolation point when world No38 Misaki Kobayashi beat retired 35-year-old former world No1 Natalie Grainger 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 12-10 in the final match.
Team coach Chris Walker, a former England captain, was pleased with his largely inexperienced squad’s performance. “We knew it was going to be tough, but Olivia was clinical and sound, playing the best she’s been all week to put us ahead.
“This took some of the pressure off Sabrina who played a fine game to see us through.
“The beauty of having this young squad is that they are gaining important experience and learning all the time.”
More to follow ..