Few would disagree if told that 2014 was one of Indian Squash’s most memorable 12 months in its history. The reason for that being the excellent showing by our players at the Asian Games in Incheon, where they won a total of 4 medals, the largest tally in its history and provided many a fan great joy.
After a sterling year, there was increased expectations from our players in 2015 as well and while there were some glittering moments, there were a few disappointments along the way as well.
Joshna soars; Dipika not quite
There is no doubt that among the Indian players, the happiest of the lot would be Joshna Chinappa. The Chennai-born player clinched the Victoria Open title in August and then won the first leg of the three-legged NSCI Open in Mumbai in September.
She then pulled off perhaps the biggest win of her career at the Qatar Classic, defeating reigning World No.1 Raneem El Weliliy of Egypt in the opening round and finished the year as the top-ranked Indian player with a ranking of 13.
Contrastingly, though, Dipika Pallikal didn't have the best of the years on the court, and for the first time in 5 years, finished below Chinappa in the world rankings at 16.
In Men Singles, Saurav Ghosal had a good time at the NSCI Open where he finished as a runners-up in the Mumbai leg and did one better at the Kolkata leg, defeating Marwan ElShorbagy in the final. But it was a disappointing end to 2015 for him as he had to withdraw from the Men’S World Squash Championships after injuring his right foot ahead of his second round match.
Juniors bring laurels in big events
One of the most encouraging outcomes from 2015 was the performance of India’s junior players in the global events. Velavan Senthilkumar, the 17-year-old from Tamil Nadu, clinched the bronze medal in the Singles and then won silver with Harshit Kaur Jawanda in the Mixed Doubles category at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. He did equally well in the national tournaments as well, clinching the U19 National title and the CCI Open in the same category to round off an impressive year.
Another youngster who had an equally prolific time in 2015 is Abhay Singh, who won three titles in the Under-17 category and finished runner-up in two. In the Under-15 category, Tushar Shahani has been outstanding, winning 4 titles including the National title in his category.
Neel Joshi, in the Boys Under-13 category also put in excellent performances, winning three titles in the past 12 months.
Among the girls, the likes of Jawanda, Akanksha Salunkhe, who finished the year ranked number one in both the Under-17 as well as the Under-19 category, Adya Advani, Navmi Sharma etc who put up very good performances across tournaments. The exploits of the juniors does augur well for Indian squash in the coming years.
The likes of Chinappa and Pallikal will start off their 2016, by playing at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York and here’s hoping that 2016 brings more laurels for Indian squash