Darren Lewis of England survived a late scare to reach his maiden semi-final in a One Star event following a gruelling 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-10 (3-1) win over Mohd. Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia, in the PSA Otters Open Squash Tournament 2006, at the Otters Club, in Bandra, Mumbai, on Friday.
After snatching the opening two games for a comfortable 2-0 lead in an 87-minute thriller, Lewis, ranked No. 137 in the world, looked set to wrap it up in the third after leading 8-4. But he lost his way and allowed No. 4 seed and world No. 127 Adnan to get back into the match, as the Malaysian forced the decider.
"I should have won the third. But it was a big match for me and I got nervous after that lead in the third game. I think I got too cautious and it allowed Adnan to come back," explained the fifth seed.
"It was the same in the fourth. But I was more attacking in a very close fifth game. He had two match balls and in the end I was just happy to survive."
Lewis will take either top seed and world No. 43 Ritwik Bhattacharya or qualifier and compatriot Siddharth Suchdde.
Malaysia's world No. 111 and third seed Timothy Arnold set up the other semi-final with No. 2 seed and world No. 59 Sourav Ghosal of India after both fashioned easy wins.
The Union Jack was flying high as Mandy Kennedy of England was the unlikely toast of the day when she shocked women's top seed and India No. 4, 17-year-old Surbhi Misra of Rajasthan 3-0 to set the ball rolling for another day of upsets, in the Otters Open, concurrently being held with the PSA Open.
At 38, Mandy is a mother of two, but there was no sign of the aging aunt while demolishing an opponent less than half her age 9-1, 9-6, 9-7 to storm into the semi-finals.
"I love playing squash. My husband is here in Mumbai on a transfer and he informed me of the Otters Open. I was delighted to enter a competition and this win is a huge bonus," revealed an excited Mandy.
Mandy's stunning effort overshadowed unseeded Rishad Pandole's upset 10-8, 9-4, 9-6 win over second seed Manish Chotrani in a tight Men's Open contest to reach the semi-finals.
Pandole, who comes from the first family of squash in India, is a regular on the local circuit but always the poor cousin amongst the elite. Today, he was Man Friday as he changed the script to score a famous win, made sweeter by beating a former national champion and a much accomplished opponent.
"It was a hard match where the close opening game was critical," explained an excited Pandole, who added, the verdict was yet to sink in. "Anybody who won the first game would always have the psychological edge. I was volleying a lot and cut out the mistakes to play error-free squash. My shots deep were working well and caused Manish a lot of problems. He either struggled to get to them or created openings for me."
Added Pandole: "I used to play him in the under-19, before he established himself. It's the first time I'm playing him in a formal match at this level. Manish was slow getting to the front. The match was a lot closer than the scores suggest. But it was exciting to beat the number two seed."
Parth Sharma of Chennai is on a roll. After beating Sandeep Jangra 3-0 in the Men's Open late Thursday night, No. 5 seed Sharma returned to upset fourth seed Manek Mathur 9-3, 9-2, 9-3 to enter the boys' under-19 semi-finals.
In a close boys' under-17 contest, No. 2 seed Laxman Joshi of Maharashtra endured a strong challenge and was taken the distance before overcoming seventh seed Ravi Dixit of Chennai 3-9, 9-7, 4-9, 9-1, 9-6 in a thrilling quarter-final tie.
PSA Otters Open (Quarter-finals): Darren Lewis (Eng) bt Mohd. Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-10 (3-1); Timothy Arnold (Mas) bt Shahril Shahridan (Mas) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9; Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Gaurav Nandrajog (Ind) 11-7, 11-3, 11-8; Ritwik Bhattacharya (Ind) bt Siddharth Suchdde (Ind).
Otters Open (Quarter-finals):
Boys Under-19: Sandeep Jangra bt Cyril uhn (Chennai) 9-1, 9-6, 9-7; Parth Sharma (Chennai) bt Manek Mathur 9-3, 9-2, 9-3; Naresh Kumar (Chennai) bt Cyrus Vakil 9-4, 10-8, 9-6; Vikram Malhotra bt Paramjeet Singh (Chennai) 9-0, 9-4, 9-0.
Boys Under-17: Girish Sawlani (Chennai) bt Prithvi Aditiya (Chennai) 9-7, 9-3, 9-1; Laxman Joshi bt Ravi Dixit (Chennai) 3-9, 9-7, 4-9, 9-1, 9-6; Vikram Malhotra bt Aditya Jagtap 9-5, 9-5, 9-7; Cyril Kuhn (Chennai) bt Paramjeet Singh (Chennai) 9-2, 9-7, 9-5.
Boys Under-15: Ravi Dixit (Chennai) bt Caran Arora 9-4, 9-0, 9-2; Aditya Jagtap bt Karan Tharyamal (Raj) 9-5, 9-2, 9-1; Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Aadit Zaveri 9-2, 9-3, 9-4; Karm Kumar (Del) bt Abhishek Pradhan 10-8, 9-1, 9-2.
Boys: Under-13: Akash Borwankar bt Rohan Vora 9-7, 7-9, 9-1, 9-2; Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Kush Kumar 9-1, 9-4, 9-4; Karan Tharyamal (Raj) bt Caran Arora 1-9, 9-2, 9-5, 9-5; Abhishek Pradhan bt Deepak Mishra 6-9, 9-3, 9-1, 9-0.
Boys Under-11: Kunj Rawani bt Armaan Kothari 9-0, 9-1, 9-2; Kush Kumar bt Yohan Pandole 9-1, 9-1, 9-2; Arjun Kochhar bt Raghav Malhotra 9-4, 2-9, 5-9, 9-4, 10-9.
Men's Open: Rishad Pandole bt Manish Chotrani 10-8, 9-4, 9-6; Gaurav Nandrajog (Del) bt Parthiban Ayappan (Chennai) 9-0, 9-5, 9-2; Vikas Jangra bt Supreet Singh 9-5, 9-6, 9-7; Harinderpal Singh Sandhu bt Parth Sharma (Chennai) 9-5, 3-9, 9-0, 9-6.
Women's Open: Alisha Mashruwalla bt Dheeya Somaiya 9-1, 9-0, 9-6; Mandy Kennedy (England) bt Surbi Mishra (Raj) 9-1, 9-6, 9-7.
Girls Under-17 Quarter-finals: Harita Omprakash bt Sunita Patwa 9-1, 9-0, 9-0; Shivangi Paranjpe bt Sachika Balwani 9-1, 9-2, 9-4; Surbhi Mishra (Raj) bt Ankita Sharma 9-0, 9-1, 9-1.
Pre-Quarter-finals: Dheeya Somaiya bt S. Swarnakatha 9-3, 8-10, 9-3, 9-4. 2nd Rd: S. Swarnalatha bt Shaheda Madraswalla 9-1, 9-4, 9-0; Harita Omprakash bt Anju Sharma 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; Dheeya Somaiya bt Swati Muchhal 9-1, 9-7, 9-4; Shivangi Paranjpe bt Urvashi Mishra 9-5, 9-0, 9-0; Ankita Sharma bt Rinki Soni 9-1, 9-7, 9-4; Sachika Balvani bt Namrata Purohit 9-1, 9-0, 9-0.
Girls Under-13 second round: Ankita Sharma bt Gayatri Adivekar 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; Sachika Balwani bt Urvashi Joshi 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.