Saurav Ghosal wins ICL Chennai Open

#1 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt #2 Wai Hang Wong (HKG) 11-3,11-2,11-3 (21m)

Delighted with his second PSA victory, the national champion said, “I dedicate my success to my coaches Cyrus Poncha and Major Maniam.” He added that the Squash Academy was “a great source of encouragement to players like me. I wish to win more and more such titles to bring India the academy to the forefront of squash.”

Maniam: Nicol David can rule the game for years to come

Malaysia’s squash queen Nicol David is capable of setting more world standards and joining big sports personalities like golfer Tiger Woods and former German tennis superstar Steffi Graf, said her former coach Major (rtd) S. Maniam. Nicol, 24, now a fully mature player, is not only relying on physical fitness but has all-round ability in squash and there is hardly any rival to match her performance at present, he said. “She has immense talent and I think she will break records in women’s squash. She will win more titles and matches and become a legend, just like Pakistan’s Jahanghir Khan, who ruled men’s squash in the 70s and 80s.

“At present I do not see anyone coming close to threatening her throne as she has managed to widen the gap with the rest,” said Maniam. At present, Nicol is officially the world number one in women’s squash and the current British Open and World Open champion. She also won the World Junior title twice in 1999 and 2000. Maniam, who is based in Chennai, has been the Asian Squash Federation’s Director of Coaching for the last 12 years and is also a consultant coach for the Squash Rackets Federation of India. Read more of this post

Economic Times article on squash

There is nothing superfluous about this sport. After all swatting a 24grams yellow rubber dot against a wall doesn’t look too arduous. But as the momentum picks up and the ball gets heated it starts cruising like a nuclear pinball. The court then becomes a war zone, where survival asks for superb reflexes, great stamina and a perfect game plan.
Squash is one of those sports, which can be learned only in a minute but it certainly takes a lifetime to master it. Squash is not new to India. The sport got popularised during the Raj era and that’s why today most of the old clubs have a squash court in their long list of sports amenities.

Perhaps this is also one of the reasons, why squash is still considered to be an elite sport. But for now it seems that a young Indians are all set to make their mark on the squash courts. For some its a passport to the foreign shores and the rest for love of the sport. And, with India winning the bronze medal at the recently concluded Asian games, the future of the squash in India certainly looks brighter.

“The prospects have never looked so good ever before,” asserts national coach, Cyrus Poncha. He feels that it’s just a matter of time when one of the players will make it to the top rankings and the sport will get its due credit. “Today, we are at an important juncture. We have the infrastructure and the players.Once, one of these young lads perform and we have a world champion from India, you’ll see squash catching the fancy of many more people,” expresses Poncha. The mood in Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) is upbeat. Recently, government also agreed to upgrade the level of the game in its list, which entitles the federation for availing more grants and facilities.

The academy in Chennai, which opened in the year 2000 already boasts of world-class infrastructure. It has got eight courts, which includes a portable glass court, a gym and a swimming pool. The men’s world championship will also be staged at the academy this year. “Our aim is to popularise the sport and provide the grounds from where we can find and nurture talent. We’ll be soon coming up with similar academies in all the major cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh,” reveals N.Ramachandran, secretary general, SRFI. Ramachandran wants to break the myth that Squash is an elite sport. “Now that we are eligible to send players abroad for training, export sports equipment and hire foreign coaches. I’m sure we will be able to make the sport reach to the masses,” he envisions.

Already SRFI has appointed S. Maniam, who was the head coach of Malaysia for 20 years as the consultant coach. Maniam is also handling the National Junior Development programme, which is designed to promote the game at the grass root level. “My job involves developing a coaching scheme for coaches and to nurture new talent. In the past we held camps at different cities and identified talented players. The aim is to produce national level teams,” says Maniam. Still, Maniam feels that coaches need to take their job more seriously. “We’ve a handful of coaches who work full time. One of the biggest need is to increase that number,” asserts Maniam. He also believes that the difference between Malaysia and India is mainly about the financial assistance. “In Malaysia, I have a target and if I achieve it, I get aid. Here things are a bit different,” he voices. Read more of this post

India wins Bronze at Asian Juniors, Hong Kong

The Indian boys recovered from being a match down to defeat hosts Hong Kong 2-1 and win the bronze medal on the final day at the Asian Junior Squash Championships. Sandeep Jangra first on court, fought hard to over come a 2 game deficit to level the scores but was unable to win the fifth against Hong Kong’s #1 Leo Au. Parth Sharma leveled the tie with his game of accurate lengths and precision finishing defeating Fung Ji Yang convincingly. Naresh Kumar playing the decider for India kept his cool to play outstanding attacking squash to defeat Chan Kai Chi in straight sets. 

The Indian team performed marginally better than the last Asian Junior Championships held at India in 2005 where we finished fourth. “In the semi finals if we could have pulled off the match against higher ranked Malaysia against whom we fought well; it would have been wonderful, nevertheless winning the bronze is a great achievement” said National Coach Cyrus Poncha. Consultant Coach Maj Maniam said “Our boys have been working very hard for the past 2 years; they have learnt what it takes to be a professional squash player. I am confident and convinced that in the next two years they will be performing well on the PSA tour.

This is the last junior team championship for all the boys, Sandeep turns 19 years later this month, followed by Naresh later this year and Parth and Harry early next year.” “We have really trained very hard at the ICL Academy for this event and the fruits of our labour equated to a worthy bronze at this championship said Harinder and Parth in unison.”Earlier in the individual event both Ravi Dixit and Ramit Tandon gave a good account of themselves which certainly augurs well for the future of junior squash in India.

Sandeep Jangra lost to Leo Au 9-3, 9-0, 5-9, 5-9, 9-0
Parth Sharma bt Fung Ji Yang 9-5 9-0 9-4
Naresh Kumar bt Chan Kai Chi 9-3, 9-5, 10-8

Hindu article on Ravi Dixit

Close on the heels of the Doha Asiad, a strong 18-member team represented India in the U 13, U15 and U17 Boys and Girls category at the Scottish and British Junior Squash Open which concluded recently.

Fourteen-year-old Ravi Dixit, participating in his first European event in the Boys U 15 category claimed his maiden European title – Scottish Junior Open in Edinburgh at the Heriot-Watt University Squash Centre. Currently undergoing training at ICL Squash Academy, Chennai, under Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha, he said it was a tough battle. “It was tough. I trained really hard and my coaches were an enormous source of encouragement. I guess that’s why I won,” Read more of this post

Hindu: SRFI honours squash coaches

The Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) awarded National-level coaches for their outstanding contribution for the development of the sport in India in 2006. Maj. Maniam, Consultant Coach, SRFI, said “such a gathering of coaches from around the country enriches the knowledge of the participants towards a scientific and systematic approach to coaching.”

N. Ramachandran presented the awards to the following coaches at the ICL Squash Academy here on the sidelines of the three-day SRFI Coaching Conference: Hari Om Tripathi, B. Balamurugan, Sunil Verma, Dalip Tripathi, Gajendra Singh Rathore, Dhiraj Singh, Manan Mashruwala. The outstanding contribution award to refereeing in India in 2006 went to Yogendra Singh

Deccan Chronicle: Saurav comes of age

Cyrus Poncha and Saurav GhosalThe satisfaction of having landed a bronze medal at the Asian Games was palpable on Saurav Ghosal’s face. He has done India proud by winning the country’s lone squash medal at Doha. Saurav Ghosal was a picture of confidence when he received the Rs 2.5-lakh reward that was given by the ICL squash academy for his Asian Games achievement. Even for someone who is used to encomiums showered on him at this venue, Thursday’s celebration was different. The reason was obvious: Saurav has done something no Indian has achieved before.
Though he is elated with his show at Doha, Saurav says he could have even won the gold medal. “I am happy that I have returned home with the bronze medal. Ong Beng Hee is one of the best players in Asia and I am satisfied that I gave my best against him in the semifinal. To comeback well after dropping the first two games was a hugely satisfying experience. He was the better player on that day and his victory in the final put it beyond doubt where he stands in Asia”, he adds.

The journey from a diminutive spikehaired schoolboy to an Asian Games medallist has been eventful for Saurav. He acknowledged the role played by SRFI secretary N. Ramachandran and his coaches Cyrus Poncha and Major Maniam Saurav in shaping his career. The soft spoken Saurav conceded that he tried a little too hard in the quarterfinal against his good friend Ritwik Bhattacharya. “When the score was six-all in the third game I knew I was close and tried a few things and lost. During the break I told myself to enjoy the game and not put pressure on myself and the strategy paid off,” points out Saurav.

National coach Cyrus Poncha is thrilled by his charge’s feat. “Saurav has made rapid strides in the last few years and it is beginning to show. He is a true professional who does not complain and he is always ready for the hard yards.” Saurav had spent two gruelling weeks in England under the watchful eyes of Cyrus, a Dronacharya awardee, before the Doha Games. According to Cyrus, there is no noticeable weakness in Saurav’s game. The national champion, the coach says, will improve with more exposure against top players. Saurav’s speed on the court has drawn effusive praise from all quarters. His shot selection has also improved considerably and technically the youngster seems to have plugged all holes. Read more of this post

Saurav Ghosal felicitated by SRFI

Sourav Ghosal, the first Indian to win a bronze medal for squash in the recently held Asian Games at Doha, aims to better his performance by picking a gold in the next Asiad and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Speaking after his felicitation by the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) here Thursday, Ghosal said: ‘My next goal is to win a gold for my country in the next Asiad and the coming Commonwealth Games. I hope to work hard in the next two years and improve my ranking, so as to be among the top 30 players in the world.’

The player is currently ranked 49th in the world rankings. Member secretary, Sports Development Authority of the Tamil Nadu government, Apoorva handed a cheque for Rs.250,000 lakh to Ghosal on behalf of the federation. Ghosal was Tuesday honoured by the state government with Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi presenting him a cheque for Rs. 1 million (Rs. 1,000,000).

‘I am enjoying my stay in England and my university is very supportive,’ Ghosal said, adding that more and more Indian youngsters needed to take up squash. ‘We will then get many more champs and win many more squash medals,’ he said.

Said Squash Rackets Federation of India consultant Major (Retd) S. Maniam, who coached Ghosal: ‘Saurav has had a remarkable career this far with a string of international titles and numerous awards. Having worked closely with him before, I certainly believe he has it in him to be a top 10 squash player in the near future.’

National squash coach Cyrus Poncha said: ‘When Saurav and his family moved to live here, they exhibited their commitment to squash and placed their faith in us at the ICL Squash Academy. Today we reap its reward.’

News Today article on Maj Maniam & Asian Games

It will be a feather in the cap of the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) should the National team land up with a medal at the Asian Games to be held in December at Doha. In the words of Major (Retd) S Maniam, Director of Coaching, Asian Squash Federation and Consultant Coach, SRFI, that will be the ultimate achievement of the sustained efforts of the federation, with a dynamic personality like N Ramachandran at the helm. ‘As the president of Asian Squash Federation, Ramachandran’s contribution to the game is phenomenal. The game is growing every day thanks to his unstinted efforts and his passion for squash. He has been instrumental in the sport continuing in Asian Games. I saw the grand vision when he detailed the role he had in mind for me. Right from the day I landed am enjoying the role. It is absolutely team work when we scout talents.’

Maniam is on a mission. Not that he is averse to challenges. As the top-ranked Malaysian player for five years he had a charmed existence. National champion for three years and the East Asian Player of the Year were the just rewards.

Maniam could have turned into a pro player but turned his attention to coaching. The surfacing of world top-ranked players – Ong Beng Hee and Nicole David – was a pointer to his sustained brilliant work in moulding the talent to the desired shape. Maniam is to double up as a Technical Delegate of the Asian Games and the World Squash representative at Doha. The proud recipient of that honour said he will find the time to follow the Indian challenge.  ‘Ritwik (Bhattacharya) and Sourav (Ghosal) have it in them to give it a best shot. Joshna(Chinappa)  is likely to run into World No 14 Rebeca Chiu or the 22nd ranked Sharun Wee and with a little luck could face Hong Kong’s Christine Mark, ranked 39.  A profitable experience it should be for Joshna.’

As part of the preparation, SRFI is planning to have the expertise of the British coach Malcolm Wilstrop. ‘We are optimistic of getting the Ministry clearance, having acknowledged the positive ways and the results.’

Team for the Asian Games

N. Ramachandran, secretary general of the SRFI and a member of the selection committee that selected the team for the Asiad clarified issues during his chat with Deccan Chronicle.
DC: There is a common belief that the selection process is autocratic, what is your take on this and who constitutes the selection committee?
N. Ramachandran: Selection is based purely on merit. Performance is the sole criterion for getting the nod. National coach Cyrus Poncha, Major Maniam, Srivatsan Subramaniam and myself constitute the national selection committee and our methods have always been transparent and there is no question of any bias.

DC: The general consensus is that national number two Dipika Pallikal has been denied a chance to play in the Asian Games can you explain this?
NR: We at SRFI looked carefully at each player’s medal prospects before suggesting their name to the Indian Olympic Association. Dipika does not stand a chance to finish in the medal bracket; she is hardly 15 and has a long way to go before competing in the senior category. Dipika was beaten soundly in the Asian championship held in Chinese Taipei in the second round and that was a fair indication as to where she stands among the seniors. The national coach felt Dipika should concentrate on the British Open juniors to be held in January where she stands a realistic chance of winning the tournament. The selectors felt there is no point in sending passengers to the Asian Games and that would only dent the confidence of the player.

DC: The nationals that concluded recently were seen as the selection tournament for the Asian Games but Gaurav Nandrajog who beat Ritwik Bhattacharya in the semifinal has also not been included. What was the reason for his exclusion?
NR: The nationals were only one of the many criteria for selection. Ritwik’s track record is impeccable, we cannot deny a player of his class a berth in the Asian Games just because he had one bad at the office. The very next week he thrashed Nandrajog in three easy games. He is our highest ranked player with a PSA ranking of 41. Nandrajog has been rewarded for reaching the national final. We have named him as the non-traveling reserve for the Games. If Sourav Ghosal or Ritwik are unable to participate in the Asiad Nandrajog would replace them.

DC: With the given team, what are India’s medal prospects?
NR: Joshna should reach the last eight without ado and it is a question of a couple of good days from there. Ritwik and Sourav are both in fine form and training hard at the moment, they would be facing stiff competition but I am confident they would do well. To be realistic one medal from squash would be a huge step forward

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