Dipika win 3rd WISPA in LA

Article in Time of India (Sep 14, 2011)

CHENNAI: Dipika Pallikal had a virtually unchallenged run to the title at the Orange County Squash Open in Los Angeles last weekend, her straight-games victory margin right through the tournament a clear indicator that the 20-year-old has come of age.


Dipika has been playing senior WISPA (women’s professional tour) events for a couple of years now and the India No. 1 took some time to adjust to the rigours of competing with the best, led by the undisputed queen of squash Nicol David. Dipika, world No 24, believes the victory in LA, her third WISPA title, will lead to many more and is confident she will break into the top-20 by the end of the year.


“I’m really happy to win this tournament,” Dipika told TOI from the US where she is planning to stay for a month to play three more tournaments. “Being on the senior circuit, you always have to keep training hard and keep waiting for the wins and I’m glad I won this event here,” added Dipika.


Dipika’s strength has always been her flair, which was nurtured by national coaches Cyrus Poncha and Major Maniam at the Indian Squash Academy here, before it was further enhanced by her training stint in Egypt. But in LA, Dipika showed a new dimension in her game – consistency coupled with patience, both essential in big matches.


Dipika believes her stint with new coach, Aussie six-time World Open champion Sarah Fitzgerald, is the main reason why her game has improved so much. “I’ve been working very hard in Melbourne with Sarah Fitzgerald who is now my coach. I’m based there with her and have been working very hard on certain areas and it’s all coming together slowly,” says Dipika.


“My fitness and strength programme is taken care of by Basu Shankar and his team and without these two coaches I wouldn’t have done it. I would also like to thank Cyrus and Major (Maniam) obviously who have been training me whenever I come back in Chennai,” added Dipika. The India No 1 knows she still has to improve her game to challenge the top guns and gaining match experience is high on her priority list at the moment.


She will be playing high-profile tournaments in the US next. “I’m going to be in America for a month. I have three more tournaments here – in New York, Philadelphia and Washington and I am looking forward to doing well out here,” said Dipika, who knows the coming tournaments will be a lot tougher than LA. But she insists that though she won all the matches in LA by straight games, the draw was “very tough with some quality players in it”.


The final against unseeded giant-killer Yathreb Adel of Egypt was a big test for Dipika too. “I didn’t expect to play Yathreb in the final because she was unseeded. It was a great final with a lot of long rallies. I knew I just had to stay focus and keep patient all along,” said Dipika. Yathreb is a player who likes to go for the shots and her movement kept blocking me out of the way, so I stayed patient and played to my strength and the wait-watch-and- kill approach worked well for me,” added Dipika about her final at Orange County. Patience and playing to her strength should see Dipika dominate some more tournaments and climb to the top rungs of women’s squash.


About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

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