20-year-old Varunya Chandrashekhar makes it to the Mary Pierce tournament

Young talent is rising up in Indian women’s tennis and Mysuru’s Varunya Chandrashekhar is the latest in the young brigade. Chandrashekhar has joined five others playing for India in the Mary Pierce Indian Ocean Series ITF Women’s $10,000 event happening at Mauritius. The tournament has begun on 8 june and will go on till 24 June.

20-year-old Varunya has won more national level tournaments than the number of her age- in total 32, and has also been runner-up in seven tournaments. The wide gap between her winning and runners-up streaks tells us about her command over the game. Nationally, her top ranking has been 16th.

Also read: A third time to the Olympics: Discus thrower Seema Punia books her Rio berth

Whether it’s the National Ranking AITA Women’s Tournaments in Mumbai, Bengaluru or Pune, she has conquered them all in a very short span. She aims to climb up the ladder of Women’s Tennis Association ranking according to a report.

simran k(left) Varunya C(right)

Players Simran Kejriwal (left) and Varunya Chandrashekhar (right) after a match ( Picture Credit:

It is not easy for a young girl to play in so many tournaments without any sponsorship and that’s where an incense stick manufacturer Company of Mysuru ventured to help her. Her dream being of representing India in the Olympics one day she said, “It is a pleasure to be a part of the brand, which has been shaping the careers of many youngsters like me. We sportsmen thrive on passion and I’m thankful to the brand for believing in me and fuelling my passion. I look forward to having a great tournament,” she said to The Hindu.

Also read: Meet the memory wiz: Vyshnavi Yarlagadda

In the recent times, more girls are coming forward and making their careers in sports like Cricket, Hockey, Tennis etc. These favouring times are the result of many women who stayed persistent while in their initial days times like Sania Mirza, Sania Nehwal, Mithali Raj, Ritu Rani and Deepika Kumari. More power to women in sport we say!

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Women’s cricket team to target No 1 spot by 2020: BCCI President

With the Indian women cricketers generating a positive buzz with their good performance during the Twenty20 World Championship, seems like the higher authorities have also decided to take steps to raise the bar. After the recent BCCI decision to allow them to play in overseas leagues, which will be a huge bonus for them, now the new BCCI head, Anurag Thakur has plans of bringing women cricketers on par with their male counterparts in the international arena.

He has formulated a plan of action which will bring women in league with the top teams in the world women’s cricket scene. Men’s cricket is no less than a religion in India because of their performance at the global level which is yet to be the case for women.

“I have set a target for the women’s team that by 2020 they should be No. 1 in the world,” said Thakur, who was elected president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) last month, told ESPN Cricinfo in an interview on Wednesday.

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Thakur has plans to add to the facilities that are already available to the cricketers. He said that the BCCI wants to provide indoor and outdoor spaces for better practice to the team members. On his recent visit to the north east, the sports facilities in Nagaland impressed him, and he stated that the same model would be implemented in other states as well.

Also read: Conquering the greens: Golfer Vani Kapoor

Currently the Women’s cricket team of India ranks fourth in the world after Australia, England and New Zealand but with Thakur’s effort and leadership the team is aiming for the top spot. India may have missed the cut in the semi-finals during the Twenty20 World Championship but the team did put up a great game in front of the top notch teams from the world. Eventually West Indies ended up winning the tournament.

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Bhakti Kulkarni shines at Asian Chess Championship, defeats highest ranked player

Grandmaster Bhakti Kulkarni is on a roll at The Asian Women’s Chess Championship. After getting the better of  higher ranked compatriot Soumya Swaminathan, she has now defeated the highest ranked player in the tournament, Iran’s Sarasadat Khademalsharieh in the fourth round of the tournament in Uzbekistan on Sunday.

With five more rounds to go in the Championship, Kulkarni now is the leading player with Nguyen Thi Mai Hung of Vietnam. A face-off between the two in the next round will determine the ultimate leader.

Also read: A third time to the Olympics: Discus thrower Seema Punia books her Rio berth

It was a good day overall for Indian women, as higher ranked players like Padmini Rout defeated Uzbek Nodira Nadirjanova and Pune-girl Soumya won a tough contest against Munguntuul Batkhuyag of Mongolia. Meanwhile, in the open championship which is also being held, Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly, who is known as the former second of Viswanthan Anand, defeated compatriot Aradvindh Chithambaram, becoming the co-leader with 3.5 points.

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A third time to the Olympics: Discus thrower Seema Punia books her Rio berth

Discuss thrower Seema Punia is all set to make a third Olympic appearance, with her gold winning performance at the Pat Young’s Throwers Classic 2016 at Salinas (California) in the United States on Sunday. The Asian Games discus gold medal winner made the cut with her season’s best of 62.62 metres throw at the event. And what’s more she exceeded the Rio qualification standrard which was set a 61.00 metres.

Punia will now be hoping to better her track record at the Olympics, having represented the country in in 2004 and then again in 2012, but not managing to get past the qualification round. The 32 year old is the 19th Indian track to have qualified for Rio Olympics. “There is a sea change from 2004 up to now. Discus throwing is my passion. This time I didn’t have much time to prepare, but I already have a gut feeling that Rio will be my best Olympic Games.”, said an elated Punia, as reported by TOI. The Haryana-based athlete will now be trained in the United States, with funds provided by the Sports Ministry under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

Also read: Dipa Karmakar becomes the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics

For those unaware of Seema Punia’s achievements, here is a quick recap. She is a gold medallist of the 2014 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China with a throw of 61.03m, a silver winner in the 2014 Glasgow CWG Commonwealth Games with an effort of 61.61m, a personal best scorer of 64.84m in 2004, also a silver medalist in 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the 2010 Delhi CWG. She has over 10 career marks over 61.00m.

Also read: Aiming for bullseye: Three archers headed for Rio

Side-by-side, the 2010 CWG women’s discus champion Krishna Poonia won the silver medal at Chula-Vista Olympic Training Centre, San Diego, with a throw of 57.97 metres in a qualification competition.

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Sania-Martina advance to second round of the French Open

Good news for Sania Mirza fans, as she has advanced into the second round of the French Open with her doubles partner Martina Hingis.  The World No.1 women’s doubles pair defeated the Russian duo of Daria Kasatkina and Alexandra Panova  7-6 (4), 6-2, in a match that lasted an hour and a half on Wednesday.

Sania-Martina began the match aggressively on the clay court, notching up a tough 5-0 lead in the first set, but then a few unforced errors prevented them from closing it out soon.  Darya-Alexandra then levelled the score 5-5, and then 6-6. The Indo-Swiss pair though came back to finish off the tie  7-4 to clinch the first set. From then on they didn’t let up the heat, taking the second set an easy 6-2, and with that the match.

Also read: Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta plus five make the Olympics cut

Sania and Martina will face off the winners of the match between the pairs Karin Knapp and Mandy Minella and Nao Hibino an Eri Hozumi in the next round.

After clinching three grand slams-Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open over the last year, the pair clinched the fifth title of season with Rome Masters Win earlier this month.  With the result, Sania-Martina now hold the joint top position in women’s doubles with 12045 points each.

Meanwhile,in the men’s matches, Rohana Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Mergea overshadowed Frenchmen Stephane Robert and Alexandre Sidorenko in a one-sided encounter, while Leander Paes joined earned victory in the first round of men’s doubles with partner Marcin Matkowski.

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Sonia Lather makes it to the Women’s World Boxing Championship Semis

Former Asian silver-medallist Sonia Lather (57kg) is the only Indian boxer to have survived so far at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships at Astana, Kazakhstan. She beat Poland’s Aneta Rygielska 3-0 to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament and has ensured a medal for the country.  With some fine footwork initially, Sonia unsettled her opponent in the opening two rounds, pulling some effective jabs. Rygielska then struggled in the final two rounds, and was brought to her knees in the final few seconds.

Also read:Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta plus five make the Olympics cut

India’s hope to get a Rio berth in the three Olympic categories of 51kg, 60kg and 75kg were washed out earlier in the tournament with Mary Kom, and Sarita Devi and Pooja Rani, all having bowed out. In the non-Olympic categories, previous edition’s silver-medallist Sarjubala Devi (48kg), former junior champion Nikhat Zareen (54kg), Saweety (81kg) and Seema Poonia (+81kg) had there fair chances, but couldn’t save the day.

In the next match, Sonia will now face Italian Alessia Mesiano, who has defeated Russian Viktoriia Kuleshova in her quarterfinal bout in a 2:0 triumph.

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Sushila Chanu to lead hockey team to Australia: Here are some quick facts about her

Defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam has been given the responsibility of leading the women’s hockey team for the upcoming four-nation tournament in Darwin, Australia which is beginning on May 30. The 24 year old is taking over from Captain Ritu Rani who has been rested for this tournament, while the vice-captain position still remains with Deepika Thakur.

“It is a huge honour to be named captain of the squad for the tour. We have already faced Japan and New Zealand earlier at the Hawke’s Bay Cup. Our chief aim will be to perform well against Japan and Australia and analyse their game at close quarters since they are in our pool at the Olympics,” an elated Sushila said to DNA.

The Indian team will be competing with the hosts and World No. 3 Australia, No.4 New Zealand and No.10 Japan in the tournament down under, which is being seen as a preparatory event before the Olympics begin in August.

Leading the team as they prepare for their Olympic campaign is no small deal; here are some quick facts on the defender who got this opportunity:

  • Currently 24 years of age, Sushila was born on 25 February 1992. Since 2010, she has been working as the junior ticket collector at the Central Mumbai Railway.
  • The second daughter to her parents, Pukhrambam Shyamsundar Singh and late Pukhrambam Oingbi Lata Devi, Sushila was actually pushed into playing hockey by her uncle Rabindro Singh. She began her practice sessions with the Posterior Hockey Team, Manipur.
  • She played her first international match for India in 2008  when she represented India in the Under-21 Asia Hockey Cup tournament which was held in Malaysia.
  • In 2009, she also participated in Under-19 Asia Cup for Hockey tournament in China.
  • In 2013, she was the captain of the junior Indian team. During her captainship, she led the team to a bronze medal win at the Junior World Cup held in Germany.

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Hoping to make the Rio cut: Mary Kom at the World Women’s Boxing Championship

It’s literally the final chance to make the cut for Rio. Indian boxers Mary Kom, Sarita Devi and Pooja Rani are all at the World Women’s Boxing Championship being held in Astana Kazakhstan, hoping to be among the 12 boxers who will qualify for the Olympics. Mary Kom, who has the distinction of winning the gold five times at this very tournament will be competing with Sweden’s Juliana Soderstrom in her opening bout in the 51kg category. Fellow teammate Devi will square off  with Ala Yarshevich of Belarus in the 60 kg cateogry, while Rani will be up against Ukraine’s Mariya Borusta in the 75 kg category on May 20th.

It’s a tough draw, and our boxers will need to make it at least to the semi-final stage to qualify for the Olympics. All eyes are of course on London Olympics bronze-medallist and Asian Games gold-medallist, Mary Kom to book her berth, along with clinching the gold at for the sixth time.

Also read: Women’s relay team breaks 18-year-old national record

Meanwhile, in the non-Olympic categories, previous edition’s silver-medallist Sarjubala Shamjetsabam (48kg), former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen (54kg), Pavitra (64kg),  Saweety (81kg), Sonia Lather (57kg), Meena Rani (69kg) and Seema Poonia (81kg) will be facing off the world’s other champions.

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Indian shuttlers book quarterfinal spot in Uber Cup

After thrashing Australia 5-0 in their opener, Indian shuttlers continued their good run at the Uber Cup by handing out a resounding 5-0 defeat to Germany to seal their quarterfinal berth at the tournament. The Indian team will now square off with 2014 runners-up Japan in their final group game. Japan has already entered the last eight stage after beating Australia for its second win on the trot at the Kunshan Sports Center Stadium.

Also Read: Indian shuttlers thrash Australia 5-0 in Uber Cup opener

The Indian win was led by London Olympic Bronze medallist Saina Nehwal who defeated Fabienne Deprez 21-15, 21-10. Following this, P.V. Sindhu then demolished  Luise Heim 21-7, 21-12 in just 26 minutes which gave India a 2-0 lead. The doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa played an impressive match against Linda Efler and Lara Kaepplein, taking home a 14-21, 21-9, 21-8 win in 41 minutes.  Yvonne Li didn’t last very long  in front of Ruthvika Shivani Gadde as the score read 21-5, 21-15, while N. Sikki Reddy and Sindhu trounced Isabel Herttrich and Franziska Volkmann 21-18, 19-21, 22-20 in the second doubles match.

However, it turned out to be another disappointing day for the Indian men’s team as they were beaten 2-3 by Hong Kong.  With this, they face an early exit from the tournament.

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Women’s team wins silver at the Asian Squash Championship

The Indian Women’s Squash team ended it’s campaign at the Asian Squash Championship in Chinese Taipei with a silver medal, even as the Malaysian team took home the gold.  The final scoreboard was 2-0 in favour of Malaysia. The Indian team had earlier beat Hong Kong to reach Asian Squash final. And the team bettered it’s 2014 performance when they had managed only the bronze.

Sachika Ingale had a disappointing first match, losing to Sivasangari Subramaniam 7-11 6-11 10-12. All eyes were then on our top player Joshna Chinappa, who started well against Delia Arnold by winning the first game, but the Malaysian kept her patience intact, finally prevailing with 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 over Joshna. With this Delia kept up her winning streak against Joshna, having defeated her both times they squared off in earlier meetings. With the fate of the teams decided with the two games, Dipika Pallikal did not get the chance to play her match.

Also Dipa Karmakar becomes the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics

However, national coach Cyrus Poncha was satisfied with his team’s performance “The boys lost a close tie against Pakistan and that too without Saurav Ghosal and the girls made steady progress, even took out the top seed Hong Kong. Yes, the final in the end proved heartbreaking but there is promise that this team will bring more laurels in the year,” he said as reported by sportscafe.

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