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Nicol plays down her chances

Principal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: World champion Nicol David might be playing down her chances to win the Qatar Airways Challenge WISPA squash championship 2006 when she says that the competition is really tough and she has to really give her best in every match to win the title. The championship will be held here from July 4 to 9.

In all probability, it is not just Nicol but also defending champion and World No.4 Rachael Grinham of Australia who are aware that the Indian hopes rest almost solely on Joshna Chinappa, the World junior runner-up and the youngest ever Indian to win the Asian junior and the SAF Games titles.

Despite hosting the biggest ever women's squash event in the city, the Squash Racket Federation of India officials are modest enough to admit that the event could at the most be a learning experience for the Indian players.

Promising star

The fifteen-year-old Anwesha Reddy, a quarterfinalist in the 2005 Hong Kong open is tipped to be another big star in the making if her early promise is any indication. For the record, the Indians who will figure in the qualifying rounds are Joshna, Anwesha, Dipika Pallikal and Surbhi Misra.

The host did not get any wildcard entry into the main draw but only for the qualifying rounds, which will be held at Secunderabad Club. From the quarterfinal stage the venue will shift to the Falaknuma Palace.

The ambience might be just right for the foreign players to revel in although the event will miss World No.1 Vanessa Atkinson from Holland who has pulled out due to a back injury.

Natalie's challenge

The interesting feature could be the challenge, which could be posed by Natalie (Rachael's sister) who was a triple gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The total prize money is $ 80,000 and the winner and runner-up will get the India Cements trophies.

The novelty of the tournament will be the all-glass, outdoor courts at Falaknuma Palace. N. Ramachandran, secretary-general of SRFI and president of Asian Squash Federation, believes that this event will give the much-needed impetus to the sport in India. Andrew Shelly, chief executive WISPA, also hinted that there is every possibility of India hosting many more big international events in future.

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