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

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Times of India article on Saurav Ghosal

Joshna Chinappa is fighting her own battle with the Squash and Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) and the other players are not involved, Asian Games bronze medallist Saurav Ghosal told TOI on Friday. “She has some issues with the SRFI, which are purely hers,” Ghosal, in the city for a short break, said. “The stand-off between Joshna and the SRFI has a long history. She is a very talented player and I hope she sorts out her problems soon,” he added. Joshna, the country’s No 1 woman squash player, has been at loggerheads with the SRFI, blaming the organisation for trying to ruin her career.

Ghosal, however, said that the SRFI has treated him quite well. “I have had no such problems as Joshna. In fact, the SRFI has helped me in my career.” Joshna is an aberration for SRFI, added Ghosal. “There are one or two such cases, but otherwise the SRFI has a huge role to play in shaping up players’ careers in the country.” Joshna has alleged that SRFI coach Cyrus Poncha has used her name for personal gains.
Ghosal, however, is willing to give due credit to SRFI for his Doha Games bronze medal, which was a landmark achievement for squash in India. “Apart from being a personal achievement, I think this medal will help squash in India. More money would come into the game now and we are hoping that the government will give squash a priority status.” That would mean more grants for SRFI and Ghosal is certain that the parent body will utilise this money to promote players. “More money would mean more exposure for us and standard will definitely improve.”
Ghosal, who left the city for Chennai because the infrastructure was much better in the southern metropolis, feels Kolkata hasn’t made much improvement since his departure. “I left for Chennai four years ago and am disappointed to say that the city still does not have a system in place to promote the game.”  Ghosal feels he and another city boy Ramit Tandon have prospered mainly because of their talent rather than the system. “I can’t see any other player from Kolkata doing well on the national circuit.”
Ghosal, who is all set to take over from Ritwik Bhattacharya the mantle of being India’s top-ranked player, is currently world No 49. Bhattacharya is number 44. Ghosal has the talent to be placed much higher on the ladder and the Doha bronze is the just the boost he needed.

Indian Express article on Bhuvaneshwari Kumari

As the Princess of Alwar she could have led a cushy life. Instead she chose to go through the grind and spent long hours working on her fitness. She always travelled with the rest of the team even if that meant travelling on an unreserved ticket for tournaments! “Paying my air fare was no big deal for my parents. But, they never spoilt us. They were always very encouraging about my sister and I taking up something like squash and not say, polo or shooting — the symbols of royalty,” says 16 consecutive time national squash champion Bhuvaneshwari Kumari. Read more of this post

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

Article on Dipika Pallikal

Article in the Hindu about Dipika Pallikal

Indiatimes interview with Ritwik

World number 41 Ritwik Bhattacharya on Tuesday denied he would be looking for revenge when he comes up against Sourav Ghosal in the 54th national squash championships beginning on Wednesday.
“No, not at all. Sourav is a high calibre player now, not a kid anymore. I have been on the international circuit for five years now. Hopefully my experience will stand me in good stead,” Bhattacharya said on the eve of the championships. And there is also Siddarth Suchde, who is also a very good player. So it is not going to be all about us,” added the defending champion. Read more of this post

Dipika Pallikal’s CNN-IBN interview

Dipika Pallikal could easily have been a model. But for this talented squash player from Chennai, the sport has been an obsession and looks like it is finally paying off. Dipika has been steadily gaining points in the junior circuit and her most recent achievement was winning the Asian junior championship. “It was a really good experience for me in the Dutch Open. One of the biggest wins of the year was the Asian Junior Championships. And being Asia’s No 1 is a really big thing in India,” Dipika says. The SAF games was the second team tournament in Dipika’s young career and she feels the camaraderie shared with team mates while playing for the country is a refreshing change from the individual events that squash players normally participate in. “It was a good experience being in a team, working as a team, having dinner and lunch together. It was a different experience from being an individual,” she adds.

Ask her about the reason why Chennai is dominating Indian squash and the pretty young lass is all smiles. After all, the city has produced the likes of Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinnapa. “We normally go only for squash, we go to school for three hours and we are back for squash. So squash is our aim in Channai,” says Dipika. Watch the interview

Saurav’s Hindustan Times clip

‘I want to be a business consultant’ I ’m a student of Economics and Management at the University of Leeds. Hence I’m passionate about entrepreneurial issues and, perhaps, when I’m done playing, I’d like to get into business consulting. How businesses work, what are their structural and strategic problems – I find these topics interesting. Read more of this post

Flaunting flamboyance and raising standards

Their’s is the nuanced difference between a trendsetter and a trailblazer. While Ritwik Bhattacharya was the first of Indians to make inroads into world squash’s professional circuit, Saurav Ghosal promises to step up the pace with attacking strokemaking – his unmistakable flamboyance in tow.
What’s more – having persisted with this style after moving base to England and seeking out a coach who encourages just that – he might just draw in more crowds in India, with the flash still intact. A narrow 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-10 (2-0) win for Saurav Ghosal over Ritwik Bhattacharya in the PSA Otters Open here was only the second for the 20-year-old over his senior opponent. Read more of this post