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Crome Shines In Vietnam

Vietnam Open 2008
Hanoi Club, Hanoi, 18-20 Mar, $8k
Round One
18 Mar
18 Mar
19 Mar
20 Mar
Louise Crome (Nzl)
9/3, 9/0, 9/1 (23m)
Josefa Bertilsson (Swe)
Louise Crome
9-4, 9-6, 9-3 (41m)
Donna Urquhart
Louise Crome
9-7, 9-1, 9-7 (47m)

oshna Chinappa
Donna Urquhart (Aus)
9/0, 9/0, 9/2 (19m)
Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)

[8] Mami Nishio (Jpn)
Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)

Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
7/9, 9/1, 9/1, 7/9, 10/8 (65m)
[3] Elise Ng (Hkg)
Dipika Pallikal
9-6, 9-7, 9-4 (36m)
Joshna Chinappa

Joshna Chinappa (Ind)
10/9, 9/7, 7/9, 9/7 (62m)
[2] Line Hansen (Den)

Crome Shines In Vietnam

Vietnam's first experience of professional squash drew to a highly successful climax when New Zealander Louise Crome beat Joshna Chinappa, from India, in the final of the inaugural Women's WISPA Vietnam Open to win the second Tour title of her career in the WISPA Premiere Series event at the Hanoi Club in the country's capital city Hanoi.

The thirteenth most populous country in the world, Vietnam boasts over 85 million inhabitants.  "Squash is so embryonic in the country that it is without a national squash federation," commented WISPA Chief Executive Andrew Shelley.  "It hasn't been able to co-ordinate with the rest of the international squash family.  But this week has been a catalyst of change.

"A volunteer has been found and hopefully soon there will be a link to the proactive Asian Squash Federation.  With their help, WSF will soon have another country on its books too," added Shelley.

Battle lines were drawn early on in the final - Crome opting for driving mixed with attacking boasts, while Chinappa tried hard to find angles; to stretch Crome at the front and then punch to the back. 

The top-seeded Kiwi reached game ball first, a tight drop ultimately securing the tight game for Crome.  And fifth seed Chinappa made it too easy for the Netherlands-based 29-year-old from Auckland in the second, as Crome quickly extended her lead to 2/0.

But it was back to business for Chinappa, from Chennai, who led 6-5 in the third.  Crome reclaimed the advantage, but it was only on her third match ball that the event favourite was able to win the point to clinch the match 9-7, 9-1, 9-7 after 47 minutes.

"The first game was crucial," said the maiden Vietnam champion afterwards.  "Joshna was hitting great length and putting me in trouble at the back. And although I squeezed it I knew I had to find my own length better.

"I'm going to KL in a good frame of mind and will be ready to get going in the tournament there after two days

off," she added.

Crome & Chinappa Vie For Victory In Vietnam

Top-seeded New Zealander Louise Crome and fifth seed Joshna Chinappa, from India, will contest the final of the Women's WISPA Vietnam Open after straight games wins in the semi-finals of the WISPA Premiere Series squash event at the Hanoi Club in the Vietnam capital Hanoi.

Crome, from Auckland but currently based in Amsterdam, faced Australian Donna Urquhart, the fourth seed from Yamba in New South Wales. Urquhart led briefly in the second game, but it was Crome who had the upper hand throughout most of the game, eventually winning 9-4, 9-6, 9-3 in 41 minutes.

"I played quite well in patches, but that was the problem, it was patchy," said 21-year-old Urquhart, a left-hander. "I started each game well but I wasn't consistent enough. But Louise played really well tonight and had me under a lot of pressure."

Crome, now celebrating her 10th WISPA World Tour final appearance, was upbeat about her play. "That was one of the better matches I have played in a little while. Not only is it the first time I have played her, but the first Australian for a while. They hit it hard with intensity; and with Donna I had to keep reminding myself all the way through that she was a left hander. But I knew I really needed to be up for it today as Donna has had some good results recently."

Whilst Crome has one Tour title to her name, her opponent in the Hanoi final has yet to mount the winner's rostrum in a WISPA event. Joshna Chinappa, 21, from Chennai, prevailed in the all-Indian semi-final against future star Dipika Pallikal, the sixth seed who is just 16. Both have similar physiques, and both have a languid manner, but only Chinappa really fired in the match.

Pallikal was slow from the blocks and seemed to realise that success was beyond her despite getting fairly close. The teenager, also from Chennai, went down 9-6, 9-7, 9-4 - and afterwards admitted that her extended win over Elise Ng in the previous round had affected her.

"I was really sore from yesterday so I couldn't push hard enough. But it was a good week and I hope that it carries on in Malaysia at the next event," added Pallikal.

Chinappa, ever the perfectionist, was not entirely content: "I was happy that I won but I wished I had closed it down earlier while I was leading."

The 2008 Vietnam Open - the first professional squash event to be staged in the country - is the fifth tournament in the WISPA Premiere Series. Launched with the Icelandair Group Classic in the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik in September 2007, the new series went on to stage the Colombo Open in Lisbon, Portugal, in October, followed by the Iran Open in the north western Iranian city of Rasht in November. January this year saw the staging of the maiden Hangzhou China Open.

Hanoi Joy For Dipika & Joshna In Inaugural Vietnam Open
Indians Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa scored notable upsets in the quarter-finals of the Women's WISPA Vietnam Open at the Hanoi Club in Hanoi to reach the semi-finals of the maiden international squash championships to be staged in Vietnam.

"The national motto of Vietnam is 'Independence – Freedom – Happiness'," said WISPA Chief Executive Andrew Shelley, from Hanoi. "While all eight quarter-finalists in the WISPA Vietnam Open could boast the first two, only the four winners could claim a full house."

An Indian finalist was assured when sixth seed Dipika Pallikal upset Hong Kong's No3 seed Elise Ng, and Joshna Chinappa, the fifth seed, overcame second-seeded Dane Line Hansen in the final two matches of the day.

Ng found the first game tough going against Indian number two Dipika Pallikal, though edged home after a 19-minute battle. But 16-year-old Pallikal, the British Junior Open Under 17 champion, came back to take the next two games as the higher-ranked Ng seemed out of sorts.

But the Hong Kong player recovered from 4-7 down to win the fourth game and draw level. Pallikal, however, came back from 0-5 down in the decider to win 7-9, 9-1, 9-1, 7-9, 10-8 in 65 minutes.

After the match Ng revealed that she had felt unwell during stages of the encounter: "During the second and third everything was moving 30%. My head was strange. In the fourth I tried to rally but I thought I would lose but I got it back again. Before the fifth I took some sugar but this was the first time this has happened to me so I don’t know what it was," said the 27-year-old from Hong Kong.

It took Chinappa 62 minutes to set up the unexpected all-Indian semi-final when - in her first WISPA World Tour meeting with Hansen - she beat the second seed 10-9, 9-7, 7-9, 9-7 in a match of great intensity.

Earlier, the packed crowd of enthusiasts at the Hanoi Club were unable to lift local heroine Josefa Bertilsson. The seventh-seeded Swede, who recently came to Hanoi when her father's work brought the family to the city, had a tough task to counter the top seed Louise Crome.

The Netherlands-based New Zealander went through in straight games as she picked up on any loose shots and errors made under pressure by Bertilsson, winning 9-3, 9-0, 9-1.

Crome will face fourth seed Donna Urquhart after the left-handed Australian brushed aside improving 18-year-old Japanese Misaki Kobayashi 9-0, 9-0, 9-2.