The trio was part of the Indian men’s team that won the gold medal in the Incheon Asian Games.

The tournament would help him in his preparations for the World Open commencing on November 12 in Doha, Qatar, said 20-year-old Mangaonkar at the media conference to announce the tournament here today.

“I want to try and become the India number 1. I have played in four nationals earlier and (9-time winner) Saurav had not been beaten in any of them. The tournament would also help me prepare for the World Open in which I am seeded number 2 in the qualifiers,” said Mangaonkar.

“I need to win only one match to reach the 64-man main draw at the World Open. Only I and Saurav (ranked 17 currently) are to play there,” he added.

Saurav has won eight of the nine men’s titles in a row and the only time he had been beaten was at the nationals hosted by Bombay Gymkhana here by senior Ritwik Bhattacharya.

The women’s draw in the nationals is headed by Joshana Chinappa in the absence of India no. 1 Deepika Pallikal, with whom she created history in July by clinching the doubles gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Mangaonkar, who is currently ranked 56, is expecting his ranking to improve to 48 or 49 by November 1 when the next list is released by the Professional Squash Association.

“I finished runner up in the JSW Circuit challenger in Jaipur (after losing to Sandhu in the final) and then won in the Juhu event in Mumbai. I skipped the next two. I expect my ranking to be 48 or 49 when the new list is released on November 1,” said Mangaonkar.

Mangaonkar, whose start-of-the-season goal was to end the year ranked in the top 50, has taken the first step in accomplishing it and needs to protect his ranking now.

“I am yet to make my plans for next year, but one of the goals is to end up in the top 30,” said the player who hails from Mumbai.

The total prize money is Rs. 6.5 lakh, said CCI’s squash committee chairman Naval Pandole.

The men’s champion would take home Rs. 1.5 lakh while the topper among women is scheduled to bag half that amount.

Pandole said that Deepika is not playing in the nationals as “she has some prior commitment in Monte Carlo.”

“But she will be here on the final day (November 8) to receive the honorary life membership of CCI along with Joshana for clinching the doubles gold medal in the CWG,” said Pandole.

The 71st Western India championships for juniors would be held concurrently with the senior nationals.

In Western India, there would also be events for boys (under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19) and girls (under 9, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19).

Nationals seedings:

1. Sourav Ghosal, 2. Mahesh Mangaonkar, 3. Harinder Pal Sandhu.
Women: 1. Joshana Chinappa, 2. Sachika Ingale, Urwashi Joshi.

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