By ADIL MAQBOOL – Squash Mad Correspondent
Dubai, UAE. – India’s Sandeep Ramachandran claimed his first Tour title, winning the MST Dubai Squash Series I in convincing style, coming through the entire event without dropping a game.
Ramachandran, who was ranked as high as 153 in the PSA World Rankings, started his route to the title with a comfortable win over compatriot Amit Kaushal, before taking on Pakistanis Muhammad Waseem and the event’s surprise package, Salman Hashmi, two of UAE’s top players, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Ramachandran’s opponent in the final was Egyptian teenager Seifeldin Shams, who managed to get to the final playing in the first PSA tour event of his career.
Shams started his campaign with a straight games victory against his younger brother, Zeineldin Shams, before taking on another talented Egyptian teenager, Omar Afifi, who he got past in four games.
Shams then dispatched Sampuran Banerjee comfortably to make it to his first career final on the PSA tour.
In the final, the World No.311 managed to keep his composure in a tight first game with Shams attacking at every chance he got and putting pressure on the top seed which Ramachandran was able to sustain keeping his error count to a minimum.
Ramachandran edged the first and it was smooth sailing from then on as he was then able to secure the victory, winning in straight games, as he did all week, to take his maiden title on Tour.
A delighted Ramachandran said: “I am very pleased to have won my first PSA title. It has been a really long journey starting from the age of nine with my coach Maqbool Khawaja here in Dubai.
“To have my family here and to stand here with the title alongside Mr. Maqbool and his son Adil Maqbool who has also been an integral part of my success as a squash player and a human being, makes it extra special. I’m hoping I can carry the good form for the next event.”
The Challenger 5 level tournament, which was held at the famous Aviation Club at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai, home of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, was restricted to domestic entrants only, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, meaning only those currently based in the United Arab Emirates were permitted to play.
The event, which had most of UAE’s top players participating for PSA World Ranking points, is part of a first of its kind series in Dubai which was organized by The Aviation Club, supported by MST International and sponsored by Blue Ocean Training and Consultancy, JEC Technologies and Smart Links Business Management. The second event of the series is scheduled from December 23-25.
MST Dubai Squash Series I, Aviation Club at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai.
 Sandeep Ramachandran (IND) bt  Seifeldin Shams (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (25m)
 Sandeep Ramachandran (IND) bt Salman Hashmi (PAK) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (38m)  Seifeldin Shams (EGY) bt  Sampuran Banerjee (UAE) 3-0; 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (25m)
 Sandeep Ramachandran (IND) bt  Muhammad Waseem (PAK) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (30m) Salman Hashmi (PAK) bt  Muhammad Jehangir Khan (PAK) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (25m)
 Seifeldin Shams (EGY) bt  Omar Afifi (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (37m)
 Sampuran Banerjee (UAE) bt  Abdelaziz Hegazy (EGY): Walkover
 Sandeep Ramachandran (IND) bt [WC] Amit Kaushal (IND) 3-0: 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 (10m)  Muhammad Waseem (PAK) bt [WC] Rizwan Khan (PAK) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 1-5 (25m) Salman Hashmi (PAK) bt  Ali Miski (UAE) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 1-0 rtd (14m)
 Muhammad Jehangir Khan (PAK) bt Barath Balaji (IND) 3-2: 9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5 (45m)
 Seifeldin Shams (EGY) bt Zeineldin Shams (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (30m)
 Omar Afifi (EGY) bt Nicolai Denisov (RUS) 3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8 (48m)  Sampuran Banerjee (UAE) bt [WC] Rohan Roy (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (19m)  Abdelaziz Hegazy (EGY) bt [WC] Vishal Vanket (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-0, 11-2 (11m)
Pictures courtesy of Adil Maqbool