For only the second time in 2021, the Challenger Tour returns to India this week, with the HCL SRFI Indian Tour – Chennai 3 taking place from Monday 23 to Thursday 26 August.
The Challenger 10 level event, which features both men’s and women’s draws and takes place at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai, has allowed only domestic entrants due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
World No.116 Abhay Singh leads the way in the men’s draw, with Hrinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Aadit Zaveri and Abhishek Agarwal as his nearest competitors for the title come Thursday afternoon.
World No.77 Sunayna Kuruvilla is the top seed in the women’s draw, with World No.98 Tanvi Khanna her nearest competitor for the crown. We spoke to Kuruvilla ahead of the tournament, and she admitted how excited she is to be back on Tour, having played just once since the return of the Tour after its six-month suspension through the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am so excited to be playing a tournament again. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and just looking forward to the whole feeling of competing again!” she admitted.
“Honestly for the whole of last year all of my goals were very squash specific. That didn’t do me very well at all considering we were all in situations far from ideal.
“Since this April my approach has really changed and it has helped me focus my energy on having fun, doing things I truly enjoy because of how it makes me feel and that really helped me cope.”
On her return from such a long period of time without a tournament, the Indian No.2 admitted that there would be nerves, but that excitement might just rule over every other feeling. She also said that she would feel no added pressure as the top seed.
“I mean, of course the nerves are there but in such a good way. I think it shows how much I care about what I’m doing. I think the excitement might just overtake the feeling of nervousness,” the 22-year-old explained.
“I don’t think I’m viewing it like that [as top seed] because everyone is on an equal playing field here. No one has an advantage over the other. So it’s just how the person is able to do on that given day.”
Kuruvilla is currently sitting at World No.77, which is ten places below her career-best World Ranking. She felt like she was getting closer and closer to the top 50 prior to the COVID-19 suspension of the Tour, but feels that she can continue that rise with a good run of form.
“My ranking has dropped a lot and of course it’s very upsetting, because I worked really hard and played lots of events to get to that ranking. I felt as if I was inching close to the goal of getting into the top 50 but obviously all that came to a standstill,” she explained.
“However, I know that focusing on improving my squash is the only thing in my control. The more tournaments I can play, the more opportunities I’ll have to move up the ladder. [I am] super excited for the two tournaments that are lined up. Hopefully this will be the start to a series of good performances for me.”
The event takes place from Monday 23 to Thursday 26 August at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai, where Sunayna Kuruvilla is the top seed for the women’s tournament. Follow the PSA Challenger Tour on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates from the event.
Men’s First Round Draw: *HCL SRFI Indian Tour – Chennai 3
 Harinder Pal Singh Sindhu (IND) – [Bye]
Rishit Dunga (IND) v [9/16] Jaideep Sethi (IND)
[9/16] Raju Shingava (IND) v [9/16] Tarun Mammen (IND)
 Velavan Senthilkumar (IND) – [Bye]
 Rounak Yadav (IND) – [Bye]
[WC] Kanhav Nanavati (IND) v [9/16] Ranvijay Singh (IND)
[9/16] Naresh Shingva (IND) v [9/16] Jamal Sakib (IND)
 Abhishek Agarwal (IND) – [Bye]
 Aadit Zaveri (IND) – [Bye]
[WC] Yuvraj Wadhwani (IND) v [9/16] Ravi Dixit (IND)
R Sreekartikeyan (IND) v [WC] Suraj Chand (IND)
 Rahul Baitha (IND) – [Bye]
 Abhishek Pradhan (IND) – [Bye]
Mohit Bhatt (IND) v Sumer Singh Ahluwalia (IND)
[9/16] Vaibhav Chauhan (IND) v [WC] Navaneeth Prabhu (IND)
 Abhay Singh (IND) – [Bye]
Women’s First Round Draw: *HCL SRFI Indian Tour – Chennai 3
 Sunayna Kuruvilla (IND) – [Bye]
Shameena Riaz (IND) v [9/16] Saniya Jaggi (IND)
[9/16] Rathika Suthanthira Seelan (IND) – [Bye]
 Urwashi Joshi (IND) – [Bye]
 Sanika Choudhari (IND) – [Bye]
Akshaya Sari (IND) v [9/16] Radhika Rathore (IND)
[9/16] Aaradhana Kasturiraj (IND) v [WC] Ananya Narayanan (IND)
 Sachika Blavani (IND) – [Bye]
 Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND) – [Bye]
Navya Gupta (IND) v [9/16] Tiana Parasrampuria (IND)
[9/16] Skandha Dogra (IND) v Anjami Semwal (IND)
 Abhisheka Shannon (IND) – [Bye]
 Janet Vidhi (IND) – [Bye]
Sunita Patel (IND) v [9/16] Aishwaria Payyan (IND)
[9/16] Pooja Arthi R (IND) v [WC] Mithali Surana (IND)
 Tanvi Khanna (IND) – [Bye]