by Simon Daish
World number six Swastika Ghosh was the hot favourite to lift the Under 19 Girls Singles trophy, and she didn’t disappoint. Brushing aside Uzbekistan’s Markhabo Magdieva in straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-8), Ghosh added a further win over national teammate Lakshita Narang (11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7) to breeze through to the final.
Ghosh’s most significant challenge was reserved until last as she met Under 17 champion Yashaswini Deepak Ghorpade, also of India. Both players traded fierce blows in a tense encounter, which saw Ghosh recover from behind to beat Ghorpade in a five-game epic (6-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8).
“I’m feeling good. This is my first singles title, so I’m very happy. I just thought about playing the final point by point and not focusing too much on winning the match. Now I’m focusing on WTT Youth Star Contender Lisbon,” said Ghosh
A player with form on her side, Suhana Saini backed up her recent Under 15 Girls Singles success achieved at WTT Youth Contender Otocec with a repeat performance in Tunis.
Coming through a major quarter-final scare against Egypt’s Mariam Younes (12-10, 11-3, 8-11, 6-11, 11-1), Saini then accounted for fellow Indian player Sayali Rajesh Wani 3-0 (11-7, 12-10, 13-11) to book her place in the final. Taken down to the wire in the title play-off, Saini displayed tremendous bravery in the face of adversity to see off another compatriot in Pritha Priya Vartikar (11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7).
“I’m very happy, and I want to keep my positive momentum for the next event in Portugal. This is my second title back-to-back after Slovenia, and I hope to play even better in the next event. I’m very proud of myself. The semi-finals and the final were against Indian players, so no coach could sit on the bench. It was really tough for both of us, but I managed it well, and I felt mentally very strong. I just told myself to keep attacking because she is strong,” said Saini
Dhaani Jain took the plaudits in the Under 11 Girls Singles event after beating the top-two ranked players, and a familiar face, to the title.
Making the perfect start to the day with a 3-0 victory over the host nation’s Ela Saidi (11-3, 11-7, 11-3), India’s Jain produced another superb display soon after to beat Uzbekistan’s Arujan Kamalova in the last four (11-2, 6-11, 15-13, 17-15). Just one step away from glory, Jain successfully fended off fellow Indian Ananya Muralidharan (11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7) to emerge as champion.
“I’m feeling very happy as it’s the first time that I have had this experience. I just kept calm and didn’t get over-excited against the players here because I’m younger,” said Jain
There’s no play scheduled for Thursday, with Friday’s action signalling the start of the Boys Singles events.