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Amina packs off Sandhya Nagaraj

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 3. She had the game but not the strength. The second-seeded Sandhya Nagaraj started well but it was her opponent, Amina Rakhim of Kazakhstan, who had the last laugh in the quarterfinals of the adidas ITF junior grade `II' tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Thursday.

Sandhya, champion of the grade `III' tournament last week in Kolkata, served and stroked well, especially in the tie-break, to take the first set. However, she lacked the stamina — both mental and physical — to tackle the highly competitive Amina, who eventually prevailed 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1.

It was a big blow to the aspirations of the 16-year-old Sandhya, the only Indian girl in the top-100 of the ITF junior rankings, as she had to settle for just 30 ITF points. She had won 60 points for the title last week.

The tall and strongly built Amina does not have a spectacular game, but compensates with loads of determination.

Madura Ranganathan was in a similar situation but handled it competently, especially in the nerve-wracking decider, to send her Belgian opponent, Yanina Wickmayer, into a flood of tears. While Madura was unable to serve out the match at 5-3, Yanina was quite nervous as she put a forehand wide at 30-40 in the 10th game and went on to lose the match.

Indian boys do well

There was a lot of cheer for the Indian camp in the boys' section, as Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Vivek Shokeen and Sanam Singh made the semifinals as expected. Jeevan and Vivek beat quality opponents — Brad Williams of South Africa and Uzbekistan's Vaja Uzakov respectively — lifting their games up when it mattered.

Sanam, on the other hand, tackled the zealous efforts of fellow Chandigarh lad Kinshuk Sharma with a fair degree of assurance.

The results:

Boys (quarterfinals): Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Brad Brinkhause Williams (RSA) 6-1, 6-2; Xu Jun Chao (Chn) bt Agung Bagus Dewantoro (Ina) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Vivek Shokeen bt Vaja Uzakov (Uzb) 6-4, 6-2; Sanam Singh bt Kinshuk Sharma 6-1, 6-4.

Doubles (semifinals): Sanam & Jeevan bt Christopher Rungkat (Ina) & Kaushik Raju 6-1, 6-2; Vivek & Sumit Prakash Gupta bt Faisal Aidil & Agung Bagus 6-4, 6-4.

Girls (quarterfinals): Xenia Palkina (Kgz) bt Martina Lautenschlager (Sui) 6-4, 6-0; Madura Ranganathan bt Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; Eleonora Sitdjemileva (Uzb) bt Goele Lemmens (Bel) 6-1, 6-2; Amina Rakhim (Kaz) bt Sandhya Nagaraj 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles (semifinals): Laura-Loana Andrei (Rom) & Justina Derungs (Sui) bt Madura & Sandhya 6-3, 6-1; Amina & Xenia Palkina (Kgz) bt Poojashree Venkatesh & Parija Maloo 6-1, 6-0.

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