Glitz and glamour as Singh gets in the swing of squash
By RAJ ARORA in Mumbai
Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh added a touch of glamour and gave a huge shout-out to squash as he popped in for the presentation ceremony and also got on court after the finals of the JSW Indian Squash Circuit 2016 Otters International in Mumbai.
The organisers were delighted by such a perfect finale to a superb tournament.
Annie Au of Hong Kong beat India’s Joshna Chinappa 11-9, 13-11, 11-7 in the PSA W35 Final, while Iker Pajares Bernabeu of Spain beat fellow countryman Edmon Lopez 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 in the PSA M5 event.
And, when all the sporting action was done, there was more glitz and glamour in store for the packed audience at the court when megastar Ranveer Singh walked in for the prize distribution along with other sponsors. The crowd went berserk as he entered to some loud music from his latest films. There was lots of jostling for space and the energy was palpable.
And while many others would just do the customary appearance at such events, Ranveer, true to his usual style, took this many notches higher…going on one knee to offer a flower and cheer up Joshana, posing with the finalists and to top it all playing a friendly game with India’s junior prodigy, Akanksha Salunkhe, thrilling the crowd with his antics and friendly banter.
Ranger said: “In a year when our Indian female athletes have done the country proud at both Olympics and Para Olympics, I believe our women squash players also have it in them to be on top. I compliment the Indian Squash Circuit for their efforts and urge everyone to support them.
“With some of the world’s best players involved in the JSW Indian Squash Circuit, I’m sure there is a significant and untapped opportunity to build interest and engagement of potential women players with this sport through tournaments like this one.”
At a time when sports like squash need all the support that they can garner competing against their more commercial counterparts, Ranveer’s gesture came as a B-I-G boost for the Indian Squash Circuit (ISC), that has been working tirelessly since its inception in 2014 to give young Indian players a chance to play against the best in the world.
A visibly happy Ritwik Bhattacharya, the five-times Indian National Squash Champion and the promoter of the ISC said: “The whole team at the JSW Indian Squash Circuit 2016 is extremely happy that Ranveer came on board the Otters International and supported it so wholeheartedly.
“When youth icons like him come forward to support the game, it makes an invaluable difference by getting the media involved to create a public focus that can encourage a growth in participation and spectators for high-profile events like this one. We are very grateful to him.”
Men’s final: (1) Iker Pajares Bernabeu ESP) beat (2) Edmon Lopez (ESP) 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 (27 mins)
The two Spaniards, who are good friends off the court, contested the men’s Final. Bernabeu had a lot in the tank as he strolled to a straight games win over Lopez, who had his moments briefly towards the end of the second. Bernabeu was far too accurate and composed and completed a well deserved victory.
Women’s final: (1) Annie Au (HKG) beat (2) Joshna Chinappa (IND) 11-9, 13-11, 11-7 (55 mins)
A packed crowd welcomed the top two ranked women in the draw. They traded the honours in the first game with Joshna winning several points in the backhand corner whilst Annie controlled the pace mixing the height with some precise drops.
The crowd egged the home player on as another extremely even game was played out . At 10-9 to Joshna the noisy crowd was going ballistic. Annie stayed calm to save that and then created a game ball of her own and managed to take a crucial 2-0 lead with a wall hugging shot that drew no response.
It was going to be a mountain to climb. To make matters worse, Joshna had an injury below her knee to start the third as the referee ordered an injury timeout. The despondent faces of the kids who packed the front of the gallery like sardines told the story.
The Indian champion battled on gamely, pushing hard but Annie’s well placed shots were finding their mark with consistency. There was a late surge from Joshna, but it was not quite enough as Annie played yet another one to the forecourt to make it a memorable trip to Mumbai.
The action then got hotter. The Chairman of the JSW GROUP, Sajjan Jindal, himself an avid squash player, accompanied by another squash player in the family, his son, Parth, took the court before being joined by the Guest of Honour, Ranveer Singh, the Indian superstar from Bollywood and dignitaries from Otters Club including their President, Mustafa Arsiwala. The crowd went berserk as he entered to some loud music from his latest film. There was lots of jostling for space and the energy was palpable.
Ritwik Bhattacharya thanked the JSW GROUP and K Raheja Corp and the various sponsors for their support, and the Otters club for their warm hospitality.
Ranveer then sportingly played a game with Akanksha Salunkhe from Goa thrilling the crowd with his antics. He had clearly done something fantastic for women and for Indian squash as the curtain came down on a well received event.
Otters International JSW ISC 2016, Otters Club, Mumbai, India.
(1) Annie Au (HKG) bt (2) Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-7 (55mins)
(1) Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt (2) Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 (27 mins)
Pictures by NITESH SQUARE