National Squash Quarterfinals

Men: Saurav Ghosal (TN) bt Supreet Singh (Mah) 9-0, 9-0, 9-2; Harinder Pal Singh (TN) bt Parth Sharma (TN) 6-9, 10-9, 10-8, 9-7 ; Siddharth Suchde (Mah) bt A. Parthiban (TN) 9-1, 9-3, 9-2; Gaurav Nandrajog (ND) bt Naresh Kumar (TN) 10- 9, 4-9, 9-3, 9-5.Women: Joshna Chinappa (TN) bt Dheeya Somaiya (MP) 9-0, 9-1, 9-0; Anwesha Reddy (TN) bt Komal Sharma (TN) 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; Dipika Pallikal (TN) bt Anaka Alankamony (TN) 9-0, 9-1, 9-1; Surbhi Misra (Raj) bt Harita Omprakash (TN) 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.

Professional: Balamurugan (TN) bt Vijay Jangra (Raj) 9-4, 9-1, 9-2; Kalimuthu (TN) bt Desappan (TN) 8-10, 9-5, 9-3, 9-1; Sanjay Pawar (Mah) bt Hari Om Tripathi (TN) 10-8, 9-3, 9-1; Dalip Tripathi (WB) bt Vinodh Kumar (TN) 9-1, 9-4, 9-2

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Hindu: National squash Day2

Supreet Singh used to be a regular in the domestic circuit before he shifted base to Connecticut (US) this January for his undergraduate studies.The Maharashtra player flew in recently to have a feel of the squash scene, and on Wednesday he was the cynosure of all eyes with his straight game win over a fighting Vikas Jangra in a pre-quarterfinal match in the ICL-National championship.In terms of the seeding, the result was an upset as Supreet is in the 9/16 bracket, while Jangra is 5/8.It is a different matter that he will be facing the top seed and title-favourite Saurav Ghosal next but as he put it, “at least I will have the pleasure of playing a great player. Besides, the match against Vikas has toned me up for the tougher match.” Even if the score-line does not suggest that it was a touch and go match – replete with rallies. Had Jangra, who works in the Indian Navy, managed to grab the third game, the tale could have been different. Read more of this post

Joshna Chinappa article

Aiming to clinch her seventh national title, Joshna Chinappa today said her differences with the Squash and Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) were a thing of the past and she now had its full backing.”There is no point in being at loggerheads with the federation and those grey areas are past now. The federation has given me a call to help me in my endeavours to climb up the ladder on the world scene,” Read more of this post

Article in Hindu on the Squash Nationals

It was in the December of 2004 that Chennai last hosted the senior National squash championship – open and doubles – and the 55th edition, which gets underway at the ICL-TNSRA courts on Tuesday, comes at a time when the sport looks transformed with success stories. The Doha Asian Games last year brought India’s first squash medal in the form of Saurav Ghosal’s bronze and now with the Commonwealth Games ahead in New Delhi in 2010 the aspirations are for another medal in front of the home crowd.
“It is a realistic hope,” said N. Ramachandran, Secretary-General, Squash Rackets Federation of India. He attributes it to the systematic training programme that SRFI has been implementing ever since the emergence of the ICL academy here nearly a decade ago.Consistent good shows by Indian juniors in various competitions in Asia has evoked confidence in the squash fraternity, in particular the men who have been behind the Academy’s functioning, Maj. Maniam, SRFI’s consultant coach and Cyrus Poncha, the national coach, that “higher goals are achievable.”

On the eve of the national then Mr. Ramachandran said, “The top seven seeds in the open category are trainees of the ICL academy. There is prize money for the first time – Rs. 75,000 for the men’s winner and Rs. 30,000 for the women’s out of a total prize pool of over Rs. 6 lakhs.”It is not going to be a National where the focus will be on one or two individuals but one which will give an insight into the talent depth in the men’s and women’s sections,” he said.  On paper and in the absence of Ritwik Bhattacharya, who has opted out citing his recent knee surgery, defending champion Saurav Ghosal has the best chance of retaining the title. But, as Mr. Ramachandran put it, “It will not be a cakewalk. There are juniors like Parth Sharma, Naresh and Harinder Pal Singh ready to battle, not to mention Gaurav Nandrajog and Siddarth Suchde,” he said.

Similarly in the women’s section Joshna Chinappa looks set for her seventh title but Deepika Pallikal, Harita Omprakash, Anaka and Anwesha can run her close. The Open competition, the Masters championship and the professional championships will be held from July 17 to 21.The National doubles championship and the inter-State phase will be gone through from July 21 to 26.

The seedings: Men: 1. Saurav Ghosal, 2. Gaurav Nandrajog. Women: 1. Joshna Chinappa, 2. Dipika Pallikal. Professional: 1. Balamurugan 2. Dalip Tripathi. Over 35: 1. Niraj Shigaonkar, 2. Raja Parthasarathy. Over 40: 1. Rohit Thawani, 2. Chetan Ladiwala. Over 50 years: 1. B.I. Singh, 2. Vaman Apte.

Anaka & Ravi win Penang Junior Squash

ICL Academy trainees Anaka Alankamony (Girls u13) and Ravi Dixit (Boys u17) returned victorious from the Penang International Junior Squash Championships held from 6-10 June. Anaka was the only Indian double winner of the Penang Open as well as the Malaysian Junior Open (31 May – 4 June).

Anaka once again defeated county mate Saumya Karki in the final, 9-1, 1-9, 9-5, 10-9 proving that these two are the leading players on the Asian circuit in their age group. Anaka and Saumya won their semi finals in straight games defeating Malaysians, Yong Sue Ann and Celin Yeap respectively.

Ravi Dixit defeated Ng Jo Wen, winner of the Malaysian Junior Open, in the final of the Penang Junior in close four games 9-7, 9-2, 8-10, 10-8. Ravi kept the pressure from the start using his drops to great effect. In the semi final, Ravi turned the tables on South African Stephano Gras 9-4, 9-6, 9-0. At the Malaysian Open Ravi had lost to Stephano in 5 set thriller.

This is Ravi’s 1st international title in the boys u17 category, he had previously won the Scottish Junior Open in Dec 2006 in the u15 category.

Other Indian’s making the top 4 were Anwesha Reddy (Girls u17) , Ramit Tandon (Boys u15) – runner up, Dheeya Somaiya (Girls u15),  Pankhuri Malhotra (Girls u11), Akshay Deepak (Boys u15) 4th position. These achivements were fitting end to a month long Malaysian tour arranged between the Squash Rackets Federation of India and Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia. The boys and girls have benefited immensely from the 2 week stint sparing and training with the Malaysian juniors.

Squash declared a priority sport by govt

The Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports revised its categorization of sports disciplines in the country and has made squash one of the priority sports in the country. This comes in a wake of India achieving its first medal in the 2006, Asian Games held in Doha and Indian players like Saurav Ghosal and Ritwik Bhattacharya reigning the top 50 list of best players in the world.

Says N.Ramachandran, Secretary General, Squash Rackets Federation of India, “Its truly fabulous that Indian Squash is getting its much deserved recognition. This means a better funding from the government and increased opportunities for the federation to improve the infrastructural facilities of the state associations. The federation is keen to harness the talent of these junior players by giving them exposure to all international tournaments”

Cyrus Poncha National Coach, SRFI “This means motivation for all the aspirant squash players and a better scope of sincere participation to bring the sport to the forefront of Indian sports”.

Other than the men, the sport has also witnessed a steep rise in the participation figures in the women’s category. Apart from Joshna Chinnappa there are junior players like Dipika Pallikal, Anwesha Reddy, Aparajitha Balamurukan, Saumya Karki, Anaka Alankamony, Harita Omprakash etc.  Anaka and Saumya were the semi finalists at the British Open held last year.

Coach of the Gold Medal Women’s Team at the SAF Games, 2004 and Gold Medal Asian Junior Women’s Team in Pakistan 2003, Cyrus explains the situation “There used to be days when matches were cancelled for no participation of women. But the situation is definitely improving now with new possibilities in the current women’s junior team.” The boys who are turning out to be safer bets include Harinderpal Singh, A. Parthiban, Naresh Kumar and Parth Sharma climbing higher in the recent world rankings.

Articles in the newspapers

The Week article on budding juniors

In another part of Chennai, three young girls are busy on the court at the ICL Squash Academy. One of them has a board examination the next day and the other two have homework to finish, but the thwack of the racquet has pulled them to the court for an hour. A tired lot they might be, but these youngsters have a clear focus on why they are sweating it out. They are all in the sport to win, and win big. “When you start is an important factor in sport,” says national squash coach Cyrus Poncha. “It gives you an edge over competitors.”

One of his students at the academy, Anaka Alankamony, is realising the benefits of starting early. Though she started with tennis, she shifted to squash during a summer camp and bagged major titles recently. Cyrus foresees Anaka playing with experts like Saurav Ghoshal. “Anaka is a fighter, very determined in the court,” says Cyrus. That determination saw her finish third in the British Junior Squash Open at Sheffield in January. Squash has always been tagged as elitist, but players call it cost-effective. Being an indoor sport, it can be played round the year and is not affected by climatic changes. “Racquet and shoes together might cost about Rs 5,000. But, one cannot guarantee longevity of the racquet as it can get damaged if it hits the wall,” says Cyrus.

The logistics has worked out perfectly well in Anaka’s case. A student of class eight, she spends most of her pocket money and time on squash. “I practice for at least an hour every day,” she says. Staying in Chennai is a big advantage for her and other squash enthusiasts like Harita Omprakash, 16, and Aprajitha Balamurukan, 14. “Chennai is the hub of squash infrastructure,” says N. Ramachandran, secretary-general, Squash Racquet Federation of India. “Tamil Nadu is undoubtedly first in the national squash scene. Youngsters keen to master squash come here because of the infrastructure.”
Click here to read the complete article

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

Otters Million 2007

Otters Million Squash 2007
12 – 19 May 2007. Click here to download the entry form

SRFI coaching schedule 2007

15-31 Jan Asian Juniors Camp, Chennai
2-3 Mar   Level 1 Coaching Course, Chennai (Part 1)
9-11 Mar   Level 1 Coaching Course, Chennai (Part 2)
12-19 May Coaching Clinic, Mumbai
16-17 Jul   Referees Clinic, Chennai
1-11 Aug   ASF Level 1 Coaching Course, Kolkata
3-5 Aug   Coaching & Referees Clinic
TBC Aug   Coaching Clinic, Hyderabad
12-16 Sep Coaching Clinic, Jaipur
28-30 Sep Referees Clinic, Kanpur
TBC Oct    Referees Clinic, Delhi
TBC Oct   Coaching Clinic, Delhi
4-5 Dec   Referees Clinic, Chennai
TBC Dec   Asian Coaching Conference