India go down fighting to US in squash championship

July 30th, 2011 - 12:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Boston, July 30 (IANS) Hosts US ended India’s run in the women’s World Junior team squash championship with a 2-1 victory in the semifinals here Friday to set up a title clash with defending champions Egypt, who defeated Hong Kong 2-0 for their fifth consecutive entry into the final.

India, who beat fancied England in the previous round, could not repeat the feat and their sole consolation was Saumya Karki’s win in the second singles.

The match got off to a great start for the US as Amanda Sobhy beat Anaka Alankamony 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 in 21 minutes, but it wasn’t as comfortable as that sounds.

Things were tight in both of the first two games, but it was the American who had the necessary extra at the end of both.

The opening of the third was close too, but from 4-all, the end came quickly as Sobhy powered in shots which were either outright winners or forced errors from her opponent.

India levelled though as Karki put in a really strong performance against Olivia Blatchford to win 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 in 28 minutes.

The American looked to be feeling the pressure more as Karki converted a good lead in the first and moved 6-1 in the second. Then the nerves hit the Indian, and a succession of errors, forced and unforced, brought Blatchford back into it, 8-all.

However, Karki settled just in time to win the game. The third was close all the way, and 9-all it was again, but a tin from Blatchford and a stroke down the middle of the court and Karki was through to level the tie score at 1-1.

In the decider, Hayley Mendez squeezed home 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 in 42 minutes against Aparajitha Balamurukan to take the US into the final for the first time.

It was a close battle right through. In the first, Mendez moved from 8-all to 11-8, but then went tentative as Balamurukan upped the pace and started to dominate in the second, taking it 11-4.

Both the third and fourth games could have gone either way. Aparajitha led for most of the third, but Haley took the last three points for 11-9 to regain the lead.

In the fourth, the lead changed hands repeatedly, but once again it was the American who took the final three points for 11-9 again and the crowd erupted.

The results:

USA beat India 2-1: Amanda Sobhy bt Anaka Alankamony 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (21m); Olivia Blatchford lost to Saumya Karki 7-11, 9-11, 9-11 (28m); Haley Mendez bt Aparajitha Balamurukan 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 (42m).

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