POSTED DAE : Jan. 7, 2017
It was Gold, Silver and Bronze finish for India at the prestigious British Junior Open. A typical dream finish as the Indians swept way the U-19 honours with a fabulous show, something that has given Indian squash a shot in the arm. An elated national coach Cyrus Poncha put it, “this is the biggest thing that has happened to Indian Squash at the junior level! The British Open is the ‘Wimbledon’ of Squash and in this 2017 edition India had 3 players finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in the boys under 19 category. It was in the 1970s that Anil Nair won this event first for India and in more recent times our current National Champion Saurav Ghosal did it in 2004,”he said. Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup (becoming only the 3rd Indian male) with 15-13, 11-2, 10-12, 11-7 win over compatriot and unseeded Abhay Singh in a close final. And bringing home added cheer was the bronze medal effort of Adhitya Raghavan. All three have been training partners for years at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai. Poncha who has been associated with the ISA since its inception at the turn of the millenium, said, considering the enormity of this achievement it was pertinent to mention that all this would not have been possible without the Academy, which was the brain-child of SRFI patron Mr N. Ramachandran. “Mr Ramachandran’s effort, dedication and the money spent over the past two decades have paved way for this level of achievement,”he said. The national coach agreed that for all this, there was is no taking away the players' hard work right through their careers. What made it doubly sweet for Velavan was that he had won the Asian Junior title in September last (becoming only the 2nd Indian male to do so). Poncha highlighted the role of Egyptian coach Achraf El Karargui. “His way of training, laying stress on the mental and physical aspects was special. Then again his presence in the Indian corner against the Egyptians in the British junior Open proved beneficial,” he said.
Earlier from the 20-odd players from India, barring the U-19 trio, there was little to choose from the rest, though a few boys and girls did make it to the pre-quarters, namely Utkarsh Baheti, Gautam Nagpal (both U-17), Shreys Mehta (U-13), Akansha Salunkhe (U-19), Ananya Dabke and Megha Bhatia (both U-15).