The Indian youngsters are upbeat ahead of the World Junior Squash Championship.
The tournament, comprising men’s and women’s under 19 age individual events followed by the biennial junior women’s team event, will now be held in Eindhoven – the former from 26-30 July, with the Women’s Team Championship following on from 31 July to 4 August.
The championships will be hosted by the Dutch Squash Federation, in conjunction with the 15-court Squashtime Centre.
National coach Cyrus Poncha is confident of Indian players performing extremely well at the tournament. Speaking to us, he said: “ We have worked on all aspects of the game and players are really looking forward to give their best at the World Juniors. We had a training camp in Chennai, which was beneficial for all players.”
Speaking on improving mental aspect of the game,Cyrus said: “It is about believing in your instincts when you are facing three game points or match points. We have match play sessions where we tell players that you are 10-7 down, and ask them to react accordingly. It helps them in actual match situations as well.”
“There is no doubt it will be a tough tournament. We were happy with Kush Kumar’s exploits last year where he won the bronze. Don’t be surprised if we exceed that this year.”
Here are some of the reactions of players before the tournament.
Q: How do you feel taking part in the World Juniors for the first time?
I feel extremely excited, happy and a little nervous that I am taking part in an event of this scale and that I will represent India at a world level tournament – Nikita Joshi.
Getting selected for the World Juniors is by far my biggest achievement. Playing at the world's will definitely be an amazing experience. It feels really exciting and I've been looking forward to it since the past whole month. I'm sure I have a lot to take from this tournament - Jui Kalgutkar.
Q: You will be representing India in the tournament. Does it mean more added pressure?
It's an honour to represent the country at such a huge stage. After 10 years of hard work and struggle , it feels great to represent the country for the first time at the World Juniors - Vikas Mehra.
It definitely adds up to my responsibilities for now I am not playing for myself but for India but I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to represent my country and I promise to perform to the best of my abilities - Harshit Kaur Jawanda.
Q: Have you had a chance to know your opponents game ahead of the tournament?
I have seen videos of my first round opponent and have seen some of the girls play in other tournaments. I know the Asian girls games better as I have played and watched them in the Asian junior tournaments. As for the European girls, I have played some of them in the British Open - Nikita Joshi.
Sometimes, yes I do get the chance of getting to know my opponents game ahead of the tournment either because I've already played them or just watched them play. But there are also many a times where I am clueless about them. I just look at their recent performances in tournaments - Akanksha Salunkhe.
Q: Are you undergoing any specific training regimen for the World Juniors?
We had three weeks of training at the SRFI camp in Chennai in June which was extremely rigourous in terms of drills, match play and fitness. Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha conducted the camp. I along with my coach, Avinash Bhavnani, have incorporated that into my regimen after coming back from Chennai.
I try to average 2.5-3 hrs/day of various forms of training – Nikita Joshi.
Yes, we have been under a very strict routine for the past 2 months. Building up our endurance so that we have a strong base and working on hitting tight lengths and crosscourts was what we did for about 5 weeks. We've all been working very hard, learning more about the game each day – Sunayna Kuruvilla.
Q: What are the coaches telling you in terms of improving a specific facet of your game?
The coaches have been asking me to be more patient and have more confidence in myself which would help me boost my game - Adithya Raghavan.
I'm more of a defensive player. I have been taught to attack a lot more, which I've been doing lately and I can see it falling into place. My coaches have also told me to step in and volley a lot more than I do. This has definitely helped me improve my game - Sunayna Kuruvilla.
The coaches have been talking to me about attacking and finishing the ball when I get the chance rather than keeping it in play and I think that is one of the main regions in which I have to improve on - Velavan Senthilkumar.
Q: Do you have any superstitions going into a match?
I don't really believe in superstition, but I have one which I have believed from a really young age. When I receive the first point of the match it has to be a cross-court , not a length. It brings luck throughout the match – Vikas Mehra.
No.I just go in,having faith in myself and god - Harshit Kaur Jawanda.
Q: Tell us about the role played by Indian Squash Academy (ISA) in your journey so far.
ISA has some of the best coaches in the country who have been supportive to me when I needed help. I got to learn something new every time I have played or trained at ISA - Jui Kalgutkar.
ISA’s role has increased as I have moved up the age group due to selection for the Indian team for various tournaments at the Asian and World levels. The selection process is extremely important and this process has been held very efficiently at the ISA.
In addition, the ISA holds regular training programmes for the team events and these help immensely as we get to train with our peers regularly. The facilities provided in the Indian Squash Academy are great - Nikita Joshi.