hi INDiA Copyright 2022
HI INDIA NEWS DESK
By Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
Louie Fernandes of Canada was crowned the US National Carrom champion for the third time in a row after he prevailed over Preeti Jakhotia of the USA in a closely-contested final in California, with a score of 18-23, 24-10, 25-10.
Louie also won the doubles trophy along with fellow Canadian Moaz Shaikh, while Murali Balasubramanyam and Kalyan Matcha, both from Texas, finished as runners-up. Panna Chowdhury of California scored a black slam (the only slam of the tournament) on his way to clinching the title in the Challengers division. It did seem surprising to many that only one slam was scored in an event of this magnitude. The tournament also saw a major upset, after Kalyan Matcha of Texas knocked out 11-time champion Saravanan Chandrababu from Ohio in the pre-quarterfinals. Saravanan has been the undisputed king of carrom in the United States having developed an aura of sheer invincibility. This was not Saravanan’s year as he succumbed to a very talented Kalyan Matcha in a closely contested match.
The XXVI US Nationals Carrom Championship witnessed an unprecedented level of participation with over 130 players on the roster, including 67 local players from California and a double-digit number of women players.
The high participation numbers bode well for realizing USCA’s vision of tripling the number of players in the US within the next three years. For the first time in US carrom history, a female player made it to the Grand Finale in this traditionally male-dominated sport. Preeti’s accomplishment is sure to inspire women players everywhere and put the USA on a sound footing to field a strong women’s team in future world cups. Preeti’s calm demeanour prevailed over her opponents as she methodically overcame numerous challenges to reach the historic finals.
The grand gala was also marked by another historical first in improving spectatorship for carrom tournaments. All matches from Championship Sunday (Doubles Finals, Singles Semifinals & Singles Finals) were broadcast live on Willow TV, complete with player uniforms, professional video production, and live commentary.
Thousands of viewers from around the world caught the action from the comfort of their couch, for free! This is a significant step towards realizing USCA’s goal of elevating carrom into the world of mainstream sports.
Over $8000 were awarded in prize money with cash prizes for all categories. Trophies and prize monies for the Championship division were awarded by top-tier sponsors. Winners of USCA’s Online tournaments were also felicitated on the stage with medals.
The event was presided over by several dignitaries. Key highlights include the tournament being kicked off with a ceremonial break by the Mayor of Santa Clara Ms. Lisa Gillmor, a motivational speech by Crossfit athlete & trainer Brad Madeiros, a special guest appearance by Bollywood star Ms. Ashvini Bhave, an energetic Dhol performance by Baydhund, live video chat with three-time world champion Yogesh Pardeshi, and toss for the Grand Finale by Consul General of India for San Francisco, Hon. Dr. T V Nagendra Prasad.
The tournament was generously supported by several sponsors such as Willow TV, Sanjiv Gupta CPA, New York Life, Sling TV, Gilbert Real Estate Group, Keller Williams, Compass Realty, and individual donors, many of whom sent representatives to attend the event in person. The list of partners included Willow TV, Bolly 92.3FM, ITV Gold, Parikh World Media, TV Asia, and the Association of Indo Americans (AIA). Official photography for the event was provided pro bono by Creations by Sam, and food for participants was provided by Bawarchi and Urban Grill.
On the eve of the tournament, a special coaching session for beginners called “Carrom 101” was offered free of cost, and was conducted by Sam Mallisetti and Bala Parthasarathy. About 50 kids of various ages participated in the event, all of whom received carrom-related souvenirs such as tournament-grade strikers and selfies and autographs from top players. The occasion generated a lot of interest among kids and parents alike and even saw foot traffic from curious attendees of the AR/VR conference happening next door at the convention center. The Mayor of Santa Clara has reached out to USCA & BACA to explore initiating a youth carrom program in the city.
The US Nationals is one of two major carrom tournaments conducted on US soil every year, the other being US Open. United States Carrom Association (USCA) and its regional chapters such as Bay Area Carrom Association (BACA) are registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that are run by volunteers and are generously supported by patrons who are passionate about promoting the game of carrom.
Bala Parthasarathy, current president of USCA, a true visionary for carrom in the United States, left no stone unturned as his team put together a great tournament which was enjoyed by attendees at the venue as well as on Willow TV. Visit http://www.uscarrom.org to learn more as Bala and his team continue to achieve even greater success for this game.
United States Carrom Association is a non-profit organisation serving the needs of carrom community in North America and across the globe. The team has set out with a mission to introduce, integrate, and nurture the sport into every household in the United States. In addition, vision for USCA is to three fold. Firstly, to create a well-oiled machinery for carrom to thrive in the United States. Secondly, make United States a powerhouse on the global carrom arena. Lastly, an ambitious vision is to establish grassroots of carrom to make it a more popular sport in the United States.