Article on Aparajitha Balamurukan

Four years after she first held a squash racquet in her hand, Chennai-based Aparajitha Balamurukan (14) has registered her presence as a player of promise at the state, national and international levels. This energetic youngster has won her second international title in the under-15 category at the Milo All Star International Squash Championship held in Kuala Lumpur from May 22-30. A week later, as if to prove that her international title wasn’t a fluke, she bagged the under-15 girls title at the Penang International Squash Championship concluded on June 1. Read more of this post

DNA – Indian Squash looking up

Indian women’s squash has been on a high in recent times with both Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal clinching WISPA titles in the last two monthsThe latest came on Sunday when Joshna Chinappa won the German Ladies Open title in Saarbrucken.  This is Joshna’s first WISPA title on the European tour. Indian squash coach Cyrus Poncha reiterated the fact saying, “It is a great win for her she had won WISPA tournaments before but all been in Malaysia. It is a great achievement for her and you can see hard work is paying off.” Read more of this post

Hong Kong and Pakistan win Asian Squash Teams

Pakistan and Hong Kong China emerged winners of the men’s and women’s team events at the Asian squash championships on Saturday. Pakistan snuffed out Malaysia’s hopes of a title defence in two matches while Hong Kong China brushed aside India’s feeble opposition with a similar scoreline.

In the women’s event, India was outplayed by a resurgent Hong Kong China, a team the host had beaten in the league stage. Anaka Alankamony fought gallantly against Joey Chan, splitting the first two games and racing to 7-3 in the third. From then, Chan won six successive points to reach 9-7 and closed the game 11-9. A 9-3 lead in the fourth game was too much for her opponent to surmount as Chan sealed it 11-7. Joshna Chinappa (WISPA rank 31) experienced a 25-minute pasting at the hands of World. No. 18 Rebecca Chiu in the second match. Read more of this post

Maniam, Munir inducted – Cyrus receives Coach of the Year

Consultant coach for the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) and also World Squash Federation (WSF) & Asia Squash Federation’s (ASF) director of coaching, former Malaysian national squash coach Major (Rtd) S. Maniam became the first person to be inducted into the Asian Squash Federation’s Hall of Fame. Maniam has been involved in squash since 1976.

“The award was for my contribution to the sport for Asia over the last 20 years. I am absolutely elated. It (coaching) is part and parcel of my job. I am enjoying my job very much and did not expect this (felicitation),” Maniam said. The 56-year-old coach, who once groomed the current world squash champion Nicol David, is based in Chennai and shaping up the Indian squash players.

ASF director of referees Munir Shah of Singapore became the second person to be inducted into the hall of fame during a ceremony held at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai. National coach Cyrus Poncha received the ASF Coach of the Year award for the brilliant performance of the Indian women’s junior team in 2009 winning 2 bronze medals.

Anaka u-15 Asian Junior champ

Anaka Alankamony bagged India’s lone gold medal at the Asian Junior Squash Championship, while both Dipika Pallikal and Mahesh Mangaonkar settled for silver after losing their respective finals in the tournament which concluded in Busan, Korea. Anaka, the top seeded, beat Hong Kong’s Ho Ka Po 9-6, 9-6, 9-5 in the girls under-15 category final to clinch her eighth international title. Read more of this post

Full of josh, eager to climb

Making quiet progress has its own recompense. Joshna Chinappa has made more news when she has not progressed half as well as she has in the last three months. She seems to have set her priorities right. A career high ranking of 35 on the WISPA charts has not satisfied the youngster.  She is striving for improvement and is training hard to achieve her primary objective of cracking the top-30 at the earliest. Read more of this post

Squash catches ’em young!

There is innocence toddling in every inch of the ICL Squash Academy, now replete with the gentle bustle and bubbly chirps of 32 tots, who have enrolled for the summer camp.
Some might bloom, some might wither, but they have all made their first gentle strides into the world of squash.
For a whole lot of them, this is their first taste of squash. Neither as popular as cricket nor as glamorous as tennis, squash might not have swayed their fancy.
So the first shot of the course was to get them acquainted with the game. Chief coach Cyrus Poncha’s lecture on basic strokes in squash,which was followed by a video footage of the same, featuring SRFI consultant coach Major Maniam and World No. 1 player Nicol David. “Later, we demonstrated the shots on the court,” explained Poncha.
Read more of this post

Indian Express article on Harinder

This Harry wants to stop pottering around, now that his tricks have started to click. Chandigarh boy Harinder Pal Singh has no spells or charms to boast of, but the 18-year-old squash player currently figuring in India’s Top 5, and riding on a string of appearances in various finals on the national circuit, insists he’ll make do with his armoury of short-kills and high pace on the courts.Harinder made the recent finals at Otters Club in the city, taking a game off the immensely talented Siddharth Suchde before losing advantage and the title to his senior pro. But, nearing graduation from his own Hogwarts – the state-of-the-art ICL academy at Chennai, this teen from Chandigarh is aiming at bigger success in PSAs. A move down south five years ago from his laidback life in Punjab, is paying its first dividends with Harinder reaching a semifinal of a PSA event in Malaysia recently.

“It’s been a good year, though I’ve fallen ill frequently. But I got a few good results in the Junior Nationals and even in the men’s category at the senior nationals,” said Harinder, when in Mumbai for the Otters event. An aggressive player – with superior fitness – Harinder is known for his high-paced game. “Though I can improve my game, when opponents alter their pace,” he admits.

“He has notched some good wins when playing the international events,” said coach Cyrus Poncha, who has watched the Sardar develop from a diffident youngster to an assured performer on the courts. “He needs a good mixture between aggression and defense,” Poncha added. “My goal is to be in Top 100 as quickly as possible,” Harinder concluded.

“Arjuna pleasant surprise” Saurav

The first squash player to be bestowed the Arjuna award in a decade, reigning national champion Saurav Ghosal says the honour has come as a pleasant surprise for him. The country’s numero uno squash player is now hoping that the award would give a fillip to the sport besides inspiring him to scale greater heights.
“Frankly I was not even thinking about this because not many squash players have been given the award in the past.  I knew I had been nominated by the federation but I was not expecting to win it,” Ghosal said.
“It has come as a welcome surprise for me and I’m obviously thrilled to have been given the honour. Hopefully it would inspire me for greater things,” he added. The last time a squash player was awarded the Arjuna was Misha Grewal who was the national champion from 1993 to 1996 before giving up the sport for pursuing a career as a TV presenter. Ghosal winning the Arjuna is not just a personal achievement but also a reflection of the growing recognition that squash players are no getting.
“I think the whole squash fraternity would celebrate this award because it means that our achievements are getting due recognition,” he said. The 20-year-old, who became the first Indian ever to win the British Junior Open in 2004, said he could visualise a bright future for squash in the country. “Squash players getting national honours is a very positive sign for the future. We have some very good players coming up and their morale would be boosted by such developments,” he explained.
The Kolkata-lad has a busy schedule lined up for the coming months. “I’m going to Pakistan for a tournament which starts on 18 August. Then there are a couple of events in the UK, besides a tournament in the USA. So its quite hectic for me,” he said. National coach and former Dronacharya award winner Cyrus Poncha, who has groomed Ghosal, also congratulated is prodigy. “At his age, it’s a great achievement and I’m very happy for him,” he said.

Deccan Herald article on Saurav Ghosal

Saurav Ghosal’s life has turned one full circle ever since he moved out of his home town Kolkata and joined the ICL Squash Academy in Chennai.For someone who picked up a racquet at the young age of nine, success came soon. His first major title was the German Open (U-17) in May 2002 and he won the Dutch Open two months later. However, the crowning glory came in the form of the British Open (U-19) title in 2004 and he thereby became the first Indian to claim the title ever since its inception in 1980.
Last week, he added another chapter to his fledgling career by winning the National championship (in Chennai) – his third victory in four years. “Going into the final, I was under a little pressure, considering the fact that I was defending my title. But I relish such challenges. After all, there is no fun without pressure,” said Ghosal, who was in Bangalore on a private visit last week.
Coached by retired Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha while in Chennai, he currently trains under Malcolm Willstrop in Leeds and he thanks his father Prakash, who heads the Kolkata Racquet Club for having initiated him into the game. Much later, the move from Kolkata to the ICL academy in Chennai with help from India Cements executive director N Ramachandran proved to be a boon.
Ghosal has numerous firsts to his credit, the first Indian to be ranked junior World No one, the first to bag the junior National championship three years in a row and in December 2006, he won the country the first medal in squash in the Doha Asian Games.
The 20-year-old rates his Asian Games bronze medal with high regard and has his reason too. “I am proud of the fact that I could win the country the first medal in squash. Moreover, the Doha bronze earned squash a slot in the Government’s priority list,” recalls Ghosal, who beat compatriot Ritwik Bhattacharya en route to the last four stage before losing to Malaysia’s Ong Ben Hee in the semifinal. And he thinks his rivalry with Ritwik bodes well for the game. “The first time I watched him win the junior championship in Kolkata, I was just a kid. When I went on to beat him in the final of the National championship three years ago, it was a dream come true for me. Our rivalry is good for the game. You need someone to keep yourself on the toes always. Siddarth (whom he beat in the National final last week) is also proving to be a tough competitor.”
Pointing out his premature exit from the World junior championship in 2004 as one of the major disappointments of his career, Ghosal believes the game needs to be promoted more as he thinks it’s a sure bet for an Olympic medal. “We lost out for 2012. But we should make it at least for the 2016 edition,” he said. Despite being known for his swift court movement, Ghosal believes there are certain grey areas in his game which need improvement and he believes the stint with Willstrop would be handy here. “After training under him, I have improved my angular returns and forehands. I am hitting the ball harder now,” said Ghosal, who is enjoying a much needed break before he heads back to Leeds where he is pursuing his graduation his Economics and Management.
And as the current World number 42 gears up for a gruelling season which begins with the CAS International tournament in August in Islamabad, he has his priorities right. “Three years ago, I had set a target for myself – to get into the top 10 by the time the 2010 Commonwealth Games comes. The way I have been playing recently, I think I have come a long way in realising my goal.

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