Seattle Open, PSA M10 (1-6 Mar’16)

Canada’s Andrew Schnell ended the dream run of unseeded Vikram Malhotra in the final of the Samson Seattle Squash Open, a PSA Tour event. The third seeded Canadian won the match 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4. This is Andrew’s second title in two weeks time. For the US-based Indian, Vikram ranked 125 in the World it was another good show after the Florida success in December last. Beating higher seeded players including the second seed Nathan Lake (England) in this tournament, Vikram looked in good nick to do more but was unable to cross the line against a player in form.

South Asian Games – Double Gold

SAG - Team

Playing some outstanding squash the Indian men and women players covered themselves with glory with victory over Pakistan in both sections for the gold medals in the South Asian Games 2016.

With this the squash competition ended and for all the melancholy that engulfed the Indian camp after the individual competitions where the men had finished with just two bronze medals vanished as  things turned around for an historic finish. For the first time in the SAG, India was able to win the honours in both the men’s and women’s sections. In all, India finished with three gold medals overall out of the four at stake. Read more of this post

SGFI National School Games, Chennai (10-14 Feb’15)

Players from Tamil Nadu dominated the 4th edition of the squash event at the National School Games.

In the team event, of the six categories the Tamil Nadu contingent won four gold medals while Delhi won two. Delhi won the gold in the U-14 boys and girls sections. Read more of this post

Hamdard Delton C’ship, Delhi (6-9 Feb’16) 

Hamdard Delton

Indian Squash Academy trainee Abhay Singh was the U-19 boy’s winner while the corresponding girls’ event was not held. In U-17 Ashita Pranaya Bhengra, another ISA trainee emerged victorious.  Tamil Nadu had a good share of winners in the girls’ section.  A total of 293 entries from 18 states had taken part in this 4 Star SRFI junior circuit championship.    Read more of this post

South Asian Games – Joshna win’s Individual Gold

_DCM8156Squash ace Joshna Chinappa kept her date with glory. The Indian national champion, winner of the gold in 2004 and 2006 editions made it a hat trick with another gold medal success in the South Asian Games 2016 in Guwahati.

The experienced Joshna, the top seed and  the highest ranked Indian with world ranking of 14, was the overwhelming favourite but her route to the high point was not easy, thanks to the gutsy and at times tough resistance of the Pakistan’s top player Maria Toorpakai Wazir.  Joshna won  the near one –hour match 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7. Read more of this post

South Asian Games – Squash

SAG'16Squash was introduced in the South Asian Federation Games (later South Asian Games) in 1989 in Islamabad.  This was the fourth edition of the SAF Games.  The event was open for men only with team and individual being the competitions.  Pakistan’s strength in squash is well known and showed this in this Games by winning the two gold medals at stake. 

Then came a huge hiatus before squash made its second appearance in 2004, once again in Pakistan in the ninth edition in Islamabad .  This time the event was open to men and women competitors.  While Pakistan confirmed its supremacy in the men’s section,  India emerged as the top team in women’s with Joshna  Chinappa winning the gold and Mekala Subhedar the silver. Pakistan men and Indian women won the gold respectively in the team competition. 

In 2006 in Colombo again, Pakistan was to the fore in the men’s section and India took the turn in the women’s.  Sri Lanka placed second  for silver in women’s section pushing Pakistan to bronze medal. In the individual Pakistan’s Mansoor Zaman and Aamir Atlas Khan took the gold and silver leaving India’s Gaurav Nandrajog and Harinder Pal  Sandhu  as losing semi-finalists with  the bronze medals. In the women’s section Joshna Chinappa defeated Dipika Pallikal for the gold. Sri Lanka’s Tehani Guruge and Nirasha Guruge were the bronze medalists.

Squash was part of the programme in Dhaka in the next edition in 2010. Only, this edition had no competition for women.  Expectedly Pakistan won the gold medals in singles and team events. Aamir Atlas Khan was the winner and Farhan Mehboob the runner up. Indians Sandeep Jangra and Gaurav Nandrajog settled for the bronze.   In the team event,  Pakistan beat India 2-0 for the gold with  Mansoor Zaman beating Ravi Dixit and Aamir Atlas Khan edging out Nandrajog.

The 2016 edition could be a path breaker for Indian squash for expectations of the country taking full honours are high. Even though five countries are in the fray _ India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal _ once again it should boil down to an India-Pakistan affair in both men’s and women’s sections.  Such is the gulf of difference with the other participating nations. While the women squad, always strong , look even more so now with two top twenty players in the world,  the enriched Joshna Chinappa (world rank 14)and Dipika Pallikal (rank 17) there  to do duty, the men’s bunch also look quite competitive. Spearheaded by Saurav Ghosal (ranked 20) the team has previously tested Harinder Pal Sandhu, a former national champion now,  Kush Kumar and Ravi Dixit.

In comparison Pakistan in its ranks Nasir Iqbal (ranked 36) who has beaten Saurav before,  experienced Farhan Zaman and Danish Atlas Khan among others.  On paper Indian and Pakistan look evenly matched and  that should queer the pitch for  close contest. The worry for India is that Saurav, who had a brief lay off after a leg injury while playing in the Hong Kong Open has not had a match play thereafter though he has been on intense training in Doha and England. Also Harinder has not been in the best of touches though he is no push over as such. It may be recalled it was his gritty display that helped Saurav thereafter to put India on way to a historic gold medal in the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.

On the women’s side, Pakistan has the Canada-based Maria Toorpakai Wazir ranked 50 and with previous experience, to lead the bunch  which has Sadia Gul (ranked 94), an aggressive player, among others. Sri Lanka has in Mihiliya Methsarani, a youth commonwealth games bronze medallist. Else the team is relatively inexperienced. India will  have Joshna to spearhead. If necessary the two promising juniors Sunayna Kuruvilla and Akanksha Salunkhe are there to shoulder the burden.  In the individual competition too, the focus should be on Joshna and the other Indians.

Scottish Junior (8-10 Jan’16)

Saksham Choudhary reached the finals of Scottish Junior open squash championship boys under 15 category held at Herriot Watt university, Edinburgh, Scotland from 8-10 January. In the Finals he lost to top seed Alasdair PROTT of Scotland  11-2 8-11 11-5 11-6 after a hard fought match. Earlier in the Semi finals he beat Danial IZHAM of Malaysia 11/2, 8/11, 11/5, 11/6. Ananya Dabke participating in the girls under 13 category, finished in 3rd position.

WSF Level 1 Coaching Course, Mumbai

In tune with the World Squash Federation’s coach development programme the SRFI initiated a course in Mumbai from January 5 to 9.  WSF Level I Tutor and ASF Level  II coach Dalip Tripathi conducted the Level 1 course at the NSCI.  In all 62 coaches, all from India attended which Tripathi said “was very encouraging.”   Theory and practicals formed the feature of this course and according to Tripathi all those who attended appeared very happy with the course.

British Junior (2-7 Jan’16) – Indian Perspective

Neel Joshi - Nick Mathew.JPGThe U-13 sensation from Mumbai Neel Joshi lit up the faces of the Indians at the British Junior Open this year. A wisp of a lad, Neel did not let the Egyptian rampage to upset his approach of steadfast determination.  A bagful of titles in 2015 …. Read more of this post

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