Mumbai: The first-ever tennis-like circuit for squash in India, the four-legged JSW Indian Challenger Circuit for men and women will be held next month in three cities -- Jaipur, Mumbai and Chennai --, it was announced here Wednesday.
"For the first time four back-to-back PSA and WSA events will be held in India. This will help upcoming Indian players to get experience of playing against top international players and getting valuable circuit points (which will, in turn, help in improving their world rankings) in their own backyard," said ex-national champion and PSA's Asia representative Ritwik Bhattacharya at a press conference here today.
The circuit starts on October 2 at Jaipur and ends at Chennai where the finals are to be held on October 29. The individual tournament dates are: Oct 2-5 at Jaipur Club; Oct 9-12 in Mumbai (Juhu-Vile Parle Gymkhana); Oct 16-19 at NSCI, Mumbai; October 26-29 at Chennai (ISA Squash Academy).
Each circuit event will have a 16-man and 16-woman draw, comprising 11 direct entrants, a wild card and four qualifiers, which would be held prior to the main draw over two days.
While all the four men's PSA events will carry a prize money of USD 10,000 with the winner gaining 175 points each, the first three women's WSA events will be USD 5,000 and the finals USD 10,000 with the winner gaining 350 points each.
"A winner of all four events can see his world rank jump substantially. We expect those ranked 40 and above globally taking part and it includes Harinder Pal Singh and Mahesh Mangaonkar," said Ritwik, who is conducting the event through a joint venture Ivy Sport with Raj Arora under the overall auspices of the Squash Rackets Federation of India.
Country's top woman player Deepika Pallikal, from her
gold winning exploits in women's doubles with Joshna Chinnappa in July-August Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, said she would play in the second tournament in Mumbai and then in the finals in her home town, Chennai.
"This is a great initiative for us to play in our home country against international players," said Deepika, who is all set to begin her medal hunt in the Asian Games starting in Incheon, South Korea on September 19.
Top men's player Sourav Ghosal, who is the top seed in men's singles in the Incheon Games, said he will not be playing in the circuit this year but would like it to grow bigger so that the best players in the world can take part in it.
"This is a great platform for the young players of the country. When I was coming up, I struggled to make the main draw after going to countries like Australia and spending three months there. A youngster like Kush Kumar, who made the semis of the World juniors, will benefit immensely from this circuit. It's a fantastic initiative by the Jindal group," said Ghosal.
Ritwik announced the four men's wild cards as Kush Kumar, Velavan, Deepak Mishra and Vijay Kumar Meena, adding the women's wild cards would be decided soon.
Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of Jindal Sport, said that initially the agreement between Jindal and the promoters was for three years. "But we are in it for long term," said the former national ranked tennis player and winner of a doubles bronze medal in the 2002 Asian Games at Busan, South Korea.