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India emerge Asian Junior Team Champs (HK, Feb 1-5)

da82b8e5-475b-4c0b-a5c4-c732fa32fccbIndian boys scripted a grand gold medal win in the Asian Junior Team Championship by beating Malaysia 2-0. This is the second time that India is winning this crown, the earlier being in 2011 in Colombo.Though in terms of seeding, India as top seed and Malaysia as second seed, it seemed on expected lines but the pressure of a title-match can always tilt the balance either way. Read more of this post

President SRFI, D. Sarangi elected VP ASF

Debendranath Sarangi, IAS was elected Vice President of the ASF with two-thirds majority at the 37th ASF AGM held in Hong Kong. Mr Sarangi, who is the President of the Squash Rackets Federation of India, replaces the sitting VP and Management committee member Mr Syed Razi Nawab of Pakistan. He is the second Indian to become the Vice President of the ASF. Mr N. Ramachandran, the former WSF President had earlier served in this post of the Asian body. Read more of this post

Indian Success at the British Open 2017

An Indian Gold, Silver and Bronze at the British Junior Open. These are what dreams are made off!!

Dear Friends, Parents & Players,

This is the biggest thing that has happened to Indian Squash at the junior level! The British Open is the ‘Wimbledon’ of Squash and in this 2017 edition India had 3 players finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in the boys under 19 category. In the 1970s Anil Nair won this event and in more recent times our current National Champion Saurav Ghosal did in 2004.

Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup (becoming the 3rd only Indian male).  A very close final against mate Abhay Singh who incidentally was unseeded in the event. And bringing home the bronze was Adhitya Raghavan. These 3 have been training partners for year all coming out of the same stable – the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai.

On looking back at the Junior National results of 2011 – Velavan finished 7th, while Abhay did not qualify of the main draw in the under 15 category. Adhitya was 5th in the Boys under 13. A lesson to players; working hard with dedication, discipline and devotion does pay off.

Considering the enormity of this achievement it is pertinent to mention that all this would not have been possible without the Indian Squash Academy and for that matter the vision of Mr N. Ramachandran. The academy is his brain child!   Mr N. Ramachandran’s effort, dedication and the money spent over the past two decades has enabled us to achieve what we have at this event.

Of course there is no taking away the players’ hard work right  through their careers to achieve this. What makes it even more special is that all the three, Velavan, Abhay and Adhitya have gradually improved due to their very steady work ethics. It has to be said that Velavan in particular has had a magical year, as he had won the Asian Junior title in September 2016 (becoming only the 2nd Indian male to do so).

The coaches, especially at the Indian Squash Academy, need to be applauded. Major S. Maniam laid the foundation for which we are seeing success today. He along with Hari Om Tripathi, V. Laxman and Gautam Das were instrumental in putting in place a players’ development programme. Balamurugan who has been the pillar continuously works with the elite players. Kalimuthu has also been motivating the players to excel for the past decade. More recently, after the shift from being a player to a coach, Deepak Mishra has been of huge benefit to the academy. Santhosh, Sathish and Siva have been an excellent support. The federation’s great move in bringing in Coach Achraf El Karargui from Egypt has immediately paid dividends. The Egyptian’s way of laying stress in training mentally and physically and more importantly having him in the Indian corner against the Egyptians has proved beneficial.

Of course, there are so many other people who have been involved in the Indian Squash Academy and also the Federation which had done its part to ensure we have success at this level. No doubt we would have never been able to do this without the support given by the SRFI,  Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, Sports Authority of India and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

To sign off, I wish to say this has truly been a memorable event and it should be our endeavour from here to strive hard and reach the pinnacle of success in our sport by being World Champions!

A Very Proud Coach of the ISA & SRFI

Daly College Sub-Junior / Junior National S (22-27 OCT’16)

national-champions-2016Velavan SenthilKumar and Sunayna Kuruvilla (both from Tamil Nadu) became U-19 national champions at the Daly College Sub-Junior / Junior National Squash Championship. While Velavan retained his title without much of a fight because his opponent Abhay Singh, also of TN threw in the towel at the end of the second game with a back strain, for Sunayna it was a well earned maiden success which was one of the high points of the day. Seeded second, Sunayna beat her arch rival the top seeded Akanksha Salunkhe of Goa in four games.

The final day produced quite a few upset results in keeping with the highly charged atmosphere at the Daly College squash facility. The U-17 boys’ section in fact brought forth a new name in Saksham Choudhary of Delhi who downed the usually efficient Tushar Shahani, the top seed from Maharashtra. Saksham’s rise has been phenomenal for this young talent has never gone beyond the quarterfinals stage in the nationals and here he had toppled what seemed to many a sure-shot winner in Tushar. Ananya Dabke toppled 3 higher seeded players on her way to her maiden national title defeating top seeded Megha Bhatia in an intense 5 games in the girls under 15 category. Equally facile was the rise of Abhisheka Shannon of Tamil Nadu who beat her state mate who was the top seed Diksha Aurobindo over five games in the U-13 section. Yash Fadte (B15), Shreyas Mehta (B13), Yuvraj Wadhwani (B11), Amita Gondi (G17) and Kaavya Basnal (G11) held on to their top positions.  Read more of this post

Velavan – Asian Junior Champ

Medalists at AJIC 2016.jpg

India’s emerging young player Velavan Senthilkumar did himself and his country proud by winning the U-19 title in the Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship held in Malaysia from 20-24 Sept’16.

The Chennai lad who trains at the Indian Squash Academy is also the second Indian male to win this title,the earlier one being Ravi Dixit in 2010. Read more of this post

PBA (Penang) Malaysian Junior (22-27Aug’16)

Kaavya Bansal was the pick among girls and Rutvik Rau shone in the boys among the five Indians who took part in the event.  Kaavya, who was seeded two, had a first round bye. Her first victim was local girl K. Vitrikashenie in the second round (11-2, 11-1, 11-9). Kaavya then got past Vinikashenie 11-4, 11-3,11-4 next and in the quarterfinal the Indian faced a fight from the Hong Kong girl Weng Yi Ching before prevailing 11-8, 12-10,6-11, 11-9. However Kaavya could not sustain her tempo in the semi-final where the third seed C. Sashmini shocke her in straight games 11-8,11-9, 11-5. In the play off, the Indian fell to the top seed Hong Kong player Lee Sze Lok to place fourth.  Read more of this post

World Doubles (15-18 Aug’16)

India at the World DoublesAcross the world, down-under in Australia, history was again created at the World Doubles Championships. India returned home with 3 world championship medals!!

Dipika / Saurav (mixed 1); Silver Medal

Joshna / Harinder (mixed 2): Bronze Medal

Dipika / Joshna (women’s); Bronze Medal

Harinder / Ramit (men’s);  5th position

India’s leading mixed doubles pair Dipika Pallikal and Saurav Ghosal went down to New Zealand’s Joelle King and Paul Coll 8-11, 8-11 in the final to miss the Gold medal in the WSF World doubles squash championship. Read more of this post

N. Ramachandran honoured with the Olympic Order

NR.jpgThe President of the Indian Olympic Association, Mr. N Ramachandran, who is also the President of the World Squash Federation & Patron of the SRFI, has been awarded the Olympic Order for his outstanding services to the Olympic movement. The Olympic Order is the highest award of the Olympic Movement and is awarded for particularly distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement, that is, recognition of efforts worthy of merit in the cause of sport. It was established in May 1975.

The IOC President, Dr. Thomas Bach, formally presented the award to Mr. Ramachandran in Rio on the last day of the Games and congratulated the IOA President saying the award was in recognition of his contribution to the Indian Olympic Movement.

Mr. Ramachandran said, “I am humbled by the honour and it is indeed one of the best moments of my career in sports administration. I am extremely grateful to the IOC President, Dr Thomas Bach and the IOC Executive Board for choosing me for this award, ” he added, “This award belongs to the entire country.”

World Juniors, Poland (6-17 Aug’16)

World Junior TeamThe Indian juniors, a mix of raw and experience, had left Indian shores for Bielska-Biala in Poland for the World Junior Squash Championship with a touch of confidence. There were 11 of them (including five girls) for the initial Individual competitions phase. This was Egyptian Coach Achraf El Karargui’s first assignment and he too looked pleased with the talent in hand and expected a ‘ surprise or two’. There were solid performance by the boys with (9/16) Velavan Senthilkumar losing in the quarters and missing a medal. Read more of this post