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Top players for Otters squash

August 04, 2006 18:22 IST

Squash is set for a big boost in Mumbai. The city will host a PSA (Professional Sqaush Association) US $10,000 One Star event at the Otters Club in Bandra, beginning on August 8.

Former world No 4 Dan Jenson of Australia is the top seed and will lead an impressive field, also comprising India's top players, Ritwik Bhattacharya and Saurav Ghosal.

The main draw includes Timothy Arnold (ranked 111) and Mohammed Adnan (127), both of Malaysia, England's Darren Lewis (138) and Freidrich Scheel (147) of Germany.

The Otters Club, which will host a PSA event for the first time, has laid three new courts for the event that are on par with the international standards.

Micky Makhija, chairman of the squash committee at Otters, said the courts, prepared in 40 days, were laid according to the specifications laid down by the SRFI (Sqaush Racquets Federation of India).

"We've made a niche for the sidelines so that the moment the ball hits it, it will deviate. This will help the umpires on close calls. The flooring is also international quality, and will remove the impact on knee joints almost 90 per cent."

Second seed Bhattacharya, who recently won the Chennai Open, said the tournament would help immensely to raise awareness about the game in Mumbai.

"I cannot even quantify the impact these sort of events will have on youngsters," said the world number 43. "The last five years have seen the game grow a lot in India and we need to expand the base of players now.

"When a youngster competes with Jenson or me or Saurav, and does well, take some points off us, the confidence level shoots; and that very important in squash.

"I didn't know how good I was before going out and playing on the tour. As a 15-year-old I didn't think it was a big deal being ranked number one junior in India."

The 26-year-old also said that winning the title in Chennai and breaking into top-50 has given him confidence.

"Being ranked in top 50 is more a relief than anything else. When I was ranked outside 100, it was always an aim to reach the top-50 mark. I have the belief and the confidence now."

The winner of the PSA tournament will receive US $1,282, while the runner-up will earn US $877.

The Otters Open, featuring former national champion Manish Chotrani, will be held concurrently with the PSA tournament.

Pakistan's Yasin Amjad, Ali Raza and Mamoon ur Rashid are among the qualifiers for the event.

Deepti Patwardhan