Tushar Shahani and Veer Chotrani: birds of the same feather
A look at two future stars in the making.
Two gems are in the making in Indian squash. They are Tushar Shahani and Veer Chotrani. Both hailing from Mumbai, are healthy rivals on the court, and dear friends off it and the two also come from the same base, the Khar Gymkhana.
Tushar is elder by a few months but the difference hardly matters. There was a phase when Veer dominated the settings but Tushar's change came when he grew tall and became stronger. The roles reversed there and surely their's is the making of a fine healthy pair who should soon take turns, if not together, to capture the headlines.
Glimpses of their growing stature came in the recent Indian Squash Open and thereafter the gruelling trials to pick the Indian squads for the Asian and World junior championships to come up in the next few months.What appeals to an unbiased observer is their camaraderie. For ones so young and still raw by and large, their on-court demeanour stands out. They are not the noisy types who would swivel around at every turn and appeal to the Referees hoping for a favourable 'stroke'.
On the contrary, it is pleasing to see the touch of concern for each other on the court. Perhaps it has to do with their upbringing or the sporting culture that Mumbai is famous for. But there is never a speck of doubt that both these players are growing up as good examples of clean squash players who are destined to go far.
What has given Tushar an edge over Veer in recent times is the extra reach of the youngster both physically and figuratively. The height he has earned and his sprightly legs have given him that extra spring to his movements. Add talent to that and Tushar has shown why he is a champion material.
To prove that point this U-15 national champion almost made it to the U-19 world junior squad after downing a higher ranked and experienced Ranjit Singh. This recent happening has raised the stock of this Mumbai lad and heartened the Coaches who are assessing him.
Yet for all this Tushar would never have been in squash at all! As a kid, chess had enamoured him, thanks to Viswanathan Anand's exploits all around the world. He grew up well in chess and was a champion in his own right. But then frequent health issues made his parents look for a sport that gave him good physical activity. Squash was lucky to attract him and Tushar has been a willing learner all the way under A I Singh.
Within two years he had moved to being among the top in the U-11 section and since then has not looked back. It was in the U-15 section that he won his first national title. Fully engrossed in squash now and with Egyptian great Ramy Ashour as his idol, the young Indian certainly has a fine model to emulate.
Equally impressive has been Veer's rise. What gives Veer an advantage is his pedigree. He is the son of former national champion Manish Chotrani and that makes a huge difference. The father's interest and later concern for the young son's growth in the sport have to be seen. With a very supportive mother also around, all Veer needs to do is to focus and shine. With U-11 and U-13 national champion tags and a few international titles in his bag, Veer has been a proud son.
Speaking of him, Veer's mother dwells on the young boy's immense interest not only in squash but sports in general. As for squash, she said, “so involved is he that he would remember the scores of all important matches world over. Often I would stand clueless as the father and son would discuss this score, that player and match. Veer is also very deeply glued to football and reel out statistics of various international matches that have gone by with ease.” Above all, the young man is also a good student at the Jamnabai Narsee school.
The good news for Indian squash is that the two have been steadily progressing and making their impact in events here and abroad. Both have a string of overseas tournament successes to enrich their budding career record. Surely more are more to come. Read what national coach Cyrus Poncha has to record about the two players; “I have been watching both these boys from their U-11 days and to my knowledge they have played close to 40 matches together and by far they have always been a step above the rest in their age category. Both are supremely talented and if they continue playing the same way in the senior category then they are sure to reach the heights of players like Saurav Ghosal and Mahesh Mangaonkar.”