India qualify for last 16 in women's squash

India qualify for last 16 in women's squashNimes (France), Nov 14 : After upsetting seventh seeds Ireland 2-1 in the first qualifying round of the Women's Squash World Team Championship, 10th seeds India clinched pole position in Pool G by dispatching Argentina
3-0 to enter the pre-quarter-finals here.

India will next play eighth seeded Netherlands. This is only the third time India has participated in this event which has been running since 1979. India finished 18th in 2002 and 11th in 2010.

Against Argentina Tuesday, Anaka Alankamony led the way for India beating Maria Eugenia Bonilla 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 before Joshna Chinappa took just 19 minutes to overcome Cecilia Cerquetti 11-6, 11-3, 11-4.

In the final match, top-ranked Argentinean Antonella Falcione battled hard against World No. 13 Dipika Pallikal, who won 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 against an opponent ranked 100 places below her.

Earlier, Pallikal paved the way for India's 2-1 win over Ireland with a four-game victory over experienced Irish champion and World No. 10 Madeline Perry.

In the second singles, Chinappa played with great spirit against World No. 23 Aisling Blake, but let slip a 2-1 lead to lose the tie.

However, teenager Alankamony held her nerve to see off Laura Mylotte 12-10, 11-3, 11-7 to give India a sensational victory.

"It's huge," said India's national coach Cyrus Poncha when asked about the significance of the success in the event so far.

"Our aim was to top the pool and make the quarter-finals is our goal. Beating Ireland definitely gave us a lot of confidence and we hope to have a great performance against the Dutch tomorrow.

"Last year, it was a first for us to finish in the top eight in the men's World Team Championship. So if we can make the top eight here this year, it will be a huge achievement and another significant step forward for Indian squash."

The results: 10-India beat 7-Ireland 2-1 (Dipika Pallikal bt Madeline Perry 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8; Joshna Chinappa lost to Aisling Blake 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11; Anaka Alankamony bt Laura Mylotte 12-10, 11-3, 11-7).

10-India beat 17-Argentina 3-0 (Anaka Alankamony bt Maria Eugenia Bonilla 11-4, 11-4, 11-7; Joshna Chinappa bt Cecilia Cerquetti 11-6, 11-3, 11-4; Dipika Pallikal bt Antonella Falcione 11-8, 11-7, 11-8). (IANS)

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