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Qatar Open begins tomorrow

Written by: Staff
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Hyderabad, July 3 (UNI) Big time squash comes to this pearl city for the first time when the prestigious 80,000 dollar prize money QatarAirways Challenge, one of the biggest events on the WISPA World Tour, begins here with the qualifying rounds from tomorrow.

Top players of the world's women squash will be seen in action during the week-long event to be held at the refurbished Secunderabad Club courts and at the all-glass outdoor courts specially erected in front of Falaknuma Palace.

Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) Secretary-General N Ramachandran told reporters here today that India would be hosting a event of this magnitute for the first time and thanked Qatar Airways for sponsoring the third richest tournament in the circuit for the third year, and WISPA for bringing the event to India.

Reigning world champion and world number two Nicol David of Malaysia and defending champion World Number one Rachel Grinham of Australia and her sister Natalie, the World Number three and triple gold medallist at the Melbourne Commonwealth games, would be heading the star studded field in the tournament, which moved out of Doha for the first time after two years.

From the Indian perspective, it would be a hard grind as they have to go through one round of qualifying to get into the main draw.

Spearheading the four-member home team challenge in the qualifying rounds is reigning women's national champion Joshna Chinnappa (who was disappointed over not getting a wild card entry into the main draw as a host nation), the Under-19 national champion Anwesha Reddy, last month's Asian junior under-15 winner Dipika Pallikal and the under-17 champion Surbhi Misra.

Though it would be a tough task, the SRFI was optimistic of a good showing by the Indians. ''The main aim is to give an exposure to the future champions by playing alongside some of the world's leading players,'' Ramachandran said.

As a host nation, India was allowed to field four players in the qualifying rounds, which would be a draw of 16. Eight of them would join the 24 direct entrants in the main draw for a draw of 32 which begins on July 5.

The qualifying rounds and the main draw matches upto the quarterfinals would be held at Secunderabad Club and the semifinals (July 8) and the final (July 9) would be held at Falaknuma palace, about 25 km in the city outskirts.

Following is the seedings: 1 Nicol David (Malaysia); 2 Rachael Grinham (Australia); 3 Natalie Grinham (Australia); 4 Vicky Botwright (England); 5 Jenny Duncalf (England); 6 Tania Bailey (England); 7 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egypt); 8 Alison Waters (England).

India's schedule: Qualifying rounds: Joshna vs Louise Crome (New Zealand); Anwesha Reddy vs Rune Reta (Canada); Dipika Pallikal vs Trichia Chuah (Malaysia); Surbhi Misra vs Carla Khan (Pakistan).

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