Indian sports news wrap, March 14 – Sportstar

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Sneha Singh in action. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Sneha hoping to extend winning run as Amandeep, Vani and Tvesa also tee up
 Sneha Singh, winner in two of her last three starts, will be back this week for yet another attempt at her third title of the season in the sixth leg of Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour 2023 at the Classic Golf & Country Club.
While Sneha did achieve multiple wins as an amateur, after turning professional she came close several times before finally winning the third leg and again the fifth leg last week. She is now getting into the stride to do that repeatedly.
This week Sneha will have to contend with India’s top stars who are all here playing after coming back from their international engagements.
Amandeep Drall, runner-up at the 2022 Indian Open, Vani Kapoor, who had a good Top-15 finish at the South African Open last week, and Tvesa Malik, a LET regular are all among those in the draw.
The field also has Gaurika Bishnoi, who was runner-up last week in the fifth leg, Seher Atwal, who has one win this year, and Hitaashee Bakshi, a multiple winner in the past who is coming back from an injury.
Other experienced hands include Neha Tripathi, Saaniya Sharma and Gursimar Badwal, who makes a return after a long gap due to injury.
Two amateurs to watch out for will be the talented Nishna Patel, who last week made the cut and finished tied 35th at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in Singapore and Lavanya Jadon, who made her international debut at the same event.
Anvvi Dahhiya, Rishika Muralidhar, Keerthana Rajeev and Nandita Kumar are the other amateurs playing this week.
There are 38 players including six amateurs in the Rs 12 lakh event.
Sneha leads the Order of Merit and has two wins from the five events, with Seher Atwal second and Jasmine Shekar third.
DGC Open: Home stars Kapur, Bhullar lead Indian charge, defending champion Thippong too returns
Home stars Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar will spearhead Indian challenge in the second edition of DGC Open golf tournament beginning on Thursday.
The field of 138 players, from around 35 countries and including almost 50 Indians, has numerous players, who have won on the Asian Tour. Defending champion Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong will be one of the star attractions in the tournament which has greater incentive this year as the prize purse has gone up from USD 500,000 to USD 750,000, a 50 per cent enhancement.
While the Thai duo of Nitithorn and Sadom Kaewkanjana, will head the foreign challenge, Kapur, a product of the Delhi Golf Club, Bhullar and Rashid Khan, will head the Indian challenge, that include some talented young stars.
Veer Ahlawat, Yuvraj Sandhu, Honey Baisoya, S Chikkarangappa, Aman Raj and other have produced some good results and they along with experienced stars like SSP Chawrasia and Jyoti Randhawa, who have won at this course, will look to put up a challenge this week.
Kapur said, “The DGC is home in more ways than one for me. My parents used to leave me here and I used to spend a lot of time playing here and having fun with friends.
“There’s a comfort factor in playing here over the years and while I’m now a ‘senior’ on the circuit, there is so much to learn from playing alongside the younger players as we have to constantly find ways to keep up with them.” Nitithorn, recalling his win last year said, “I’m very excited to be back at Delhi Golf Club. Last year the key was just to hit the ball in the fairway because the course is quite narrow. So for me, it’s like a two iron into the fairway, and then you get like a wedge or short iron to the green. So just hit it in the fairway.
“I can remember the last hole. I can remember almost every shot, but the highlight was the second shot on the first play-off hole, I hit a three wood onto the green. That was the best shot of my life,” he added.
One player who will hope to carry his momentum this week is Chikkarangappa, who was tied sixth in Thailand last week.
“I’ve had a decent start to the year including a top-10 at Black Mountain last week so my game is in a good space,” Chikka said.
“I’ve been spending time with my putter to try and keep the shoulders stable as most of our important putts are made from inside eight and 10 feet.”
The Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) received a total of 15 entries, a record for India in the APRC Asia Rally Cup for the second round, to be held at the Madras International Circuit (MIC) from March 16 to 19.
Last year’s APRC India round winner and reigning Indian national champions Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil Pai will defend their title.
Gaurav Gill, a three-time APRC champion, who will be with a new co-driver in experienced Aniruddha Rangnekar, is also confident after testing his Subaru Impreza at the MIC.
Thailand’s Toyota Rally team will have Pornsiricherd Mana and co-driver Meenil Thanyaphat. Nikeetaa Takkale from Pune will be the only lady driver along with navigator Venu Ramesh Kumar.
The 12-car field also has young Indian debutants in Jahaan Singh Gill and Aeman Ahmed.
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship working group, said: “To encourage and boost the FIA APRC competition I was looking for a backing and immediately Merla Vamcy, past Promoter of INRC, agreed to be a contributor.
“Vamcy has also expressed his desire to be a Promoter of the entire APRC Championship in the future and discussions are going on with the FIA Rally Department for the Championship rights for 2024.” Post the pandemic, there are two categories of APRC, an Asia Zone Rally Cup and a Pacific Rally Cup competition, with separate winners who are crowned as Zonal champions.
Those qualified will take part in the one-round Finals, where the FIA APRC champion is decided.
Niki Poonacha asserted his maturity more than his big game, as he sneaked his way past Digvijay Pratap Singh 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) in the first round of the $25,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament at the RK Khanna Stadium on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old NIki, two-time national champion, showed athleticism, strike power and composure at the crunch to prevail in the energy sapping contest on the centre-court.
Digvijay, who had beaten Niki in their last professional meeting in November last year in three sets, missed his chances when he had a bunch of break points in the fifth game of the decider.He also could not serve it out at 6-5, which led to the tie-break.
Niki rose to the occasion and capitalised on the errors of Digvijay in the tie-break. After Digvijay double faulted to be down 2-5, Niki came with a jump shot winner from beyond the baseline to give himself four match points. Digvijay put a forehand long in bringing the curtain down on his challenge.
In the only other singles match in the main draw, Rohan Mehra beat Sarthak Suden in straight sets. He later joined with Shivank Bhatnagar to knock out the second seeds, Adam Taylor and Eric Vanshelboim 10-5 in the super tie-break of the doubles pre-quarterfinals.
The hero of the junior Davis Cup last year at the same venue, Rushil Khosla did well to win three matches in the qualifying event. He will play sixth seed Eric Vanshelboim of Ukraine in the first round.
The results:
Singles (first round): Rohan Mehra bt Sarthak Suden 6-3, 7-5; Niki Poonacha bt Digvijay Pratap Singh 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2).
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Francis Casey Alcantara (Phi) & Pruchya Isaro (Tha) bt Grigoriy Lomakin (Kaz) & Vishnu Vardhan 6-4, 7-6(5); Yunseok Jang & Woobin Shin (Kor) bt Faisal Qamar & Fardeen Quamar 6-2, 4-6, [14-12]; Shivank Bhatnagar & Rohan Mehra bt Adam Taylor (Aus) & Eric Vanshelboim (Ukr) 6-7(2), 6-4, [10-5].
-Kamesh Srinivasan
Angel comesback to beat Suhani in ITF juniors first round
Qualifier Angel Patel recovered from the brink of defeat to beat Suhani Gaur 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in the girls first round of the ITF junior tennis tournament at the Shanti Academy.
In the boys section, the champion of the last tournament, Vihaan Reddy outplayed qualifier Bercel Sandor Takacs of Hungary for the loss of one game.
The results (first round):
Boys: Pratyaksh bt Pranav Korade 6-2, 6-2; Parv Patel bt Manvardhan Rakhecha 6-2, 6-2; Yash Bahalkar (GBR) bt Dhanush Varma 6-4, 6-0; Fateh Singh bt Parth Deorukhakar 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3; Samarth Sahita bt Sacha Lefebure (Fra) 6-4, 6-4; Aniketh Venkataraman bt Harsh Fogaat 6-2, 7-6(2); Pavan Ganesh bt Amrit Dhankar 6-1, 6-4; Mayank Sharma bt Navya Verma 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4; Shanker Heisnam bt Arntya Ohlyan 6-2, 6-3; Vihaan Reddy bt Bercel Sandor Takacs (Hun) 6-1, 6-0; Prabir Chavda bt Mika Sheth 6-4, 6-3; Keshav Goel bt Smit Patel 7-6(5), 6-4; Siddhant Sharma bt Mahen Bitkuri (USA) 6-1, 6-0; Kashit Nagrale bt Tanishq Jadhav 6-4, 6-2; Rishivandhan Sadeeshkumar bt Daksh Kukreti 7-6(1), 6-1; Vansh Nandal bt Ayan Shetty 6-1, 6-3.
Girls: Saumya Chatterjee bt Durganshi Kumar 1-0 (retired); Aruzhan Nuranbay (Kaz) bt Simran Bundela 6-2, 6-3; Angel Patel bt Suhani Gaur 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4; Alisha Kumar (Aus) bt Angel Prakash 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4; Satima Toregen (Kaz) bt Aleena Farid 5-7, 6-4, 6-2; Callista Uchil bt Sarga Kannan 6-1, 6-2; Albina Kakenova (Kaz) bt Saily Thakkar 6-1, 6-3; Snigdha Kanta bt Vanshika VAiz 6-0, 6-3; Aanya Choubey (USA) bt Kaajal Ramisetty 6-4, 6-4; Jaya Kapoor bt Devashree Mahadeshwar 6-0, 6-1; Ariana Gogulina (Kaz) bt Serena Rodricks 6-0, 6-1; Maaya Rajeshwaran bt Devanshee Prabhudesai 6-2, 6-0; Nainika Reddy bt Mehak Kapoor 6-4, 6-1; Mandagalla Princy bt Ridhima Singh 7-5, 6-1; Diya Chaudhary bt Gia Alana Pereira 6-2, 6-0; Anastasiya Krymkova (Kaz) bt Anvi Punaganti 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
-Kamesh Srinivasan
ATP tennis tournament: Bopanna and Ebden in quarterfinals
Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden got a walkover from Grigor Dimitrov and Hubert Hurkacz in the doubles pre-quarterfinals of the $10,143,750 ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, USA.
The Indo-Aussie duo will play the Canadians, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov in the quarterfinals.
The results:
$10,143,750 ATP, Indian Wells, USA
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden (Aus)w.o. Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) & Hubert Hurkacz (Pol).
$15,000 ITF men, Kish Island, Iran
Singles (first round): Denis Klok bt Ishaque Eqbal 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): SD Prajwal Dev & SAi Karteek Reddy bt Yash Chaurasia & Jagmeet Singh 6-4, 6-3; Parth Aggarwal & Shahbaaz Khan bt Dragos Cazacu (Rou) & Tuncay Duran (Tur) 6-4, 6-1.
-Kamesh Srinivasan
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