World Women's Squash Championship: Egyptians come to tournaments in packs, says Joshna Chinappa
It shows 4 on the clock and time for the evening session to start for the World Championship-bound women players at the Indian Squash Academy courts. National coach Cyrus Poncha is there and so also the foreign coach Egyptian Ashraf El Karugui.
The senior professional and the lead player Joshna Chinappa is in her final stretch of warm up. A swift motion with the skipping rope and the lady is ready, with sweat all over already, to step onto the court. Calling out to a talented junior boy Raghav to spar with her she begins the court activity in all seriousness.
With the young boy never yielding easily to the deep drives and low drops, it was hectic. While Raghav enjoyed his play with a famed senior, Joshna got the workout she needed. Three gruelling games and thereafter a break before a meeting with the physio formed her day's programme in preparation for the Paris event.
All in all, it looked a tough regime. “Yes that is the way life is on the professional front,” she would quip on how it had been over the last past few months in particular, as she hopped from one country to another to hold her own in the PSA competition.
Lately, like her other compatriots, Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal, Joshna too has been unable to progress much in tournaments. “Yes consistency is the key. At times when you are caught up in back-to-back tournaments, it tells on the body and performance and consistency suffers.
“And then again I have been facing some of the top deck players early and that tells,” the highest ranked Indian at 13 on the PSA list, said.
Then again it would help if a player had the benefit of a coach and physio, which most other leading International players have, she said. “I feel this makes a big difference and every athlete in India, who goes for major events needs this support, not just squash but in all other sports.
“It is a big advantage if there is some one to talk to, someone who could monitor your performances and the like,” Joshna said, revealing her mind on how the road ahead can be.
Joshna hoped to phase out her itinerary on better lines in the coming year so that she would have time to recoup and help her sustain a good touch right through. “Getting back to the top 10” is of course one of her priorities in 2017. “It is a special feeling,” she added.
On why Egyptian players make such an impact, the leading Indian said one key reason, aside of course their high skills, was “they move around in packs. There are so many of them in the top rung and it helps them in tournaments as they interact, help each other and feel at home wherever they go,” she went on.
With a few weeks break now from the PSA circuit, to be in the national camp in Chennai, Joshna said she was happy to get good rest and enjoy the sessions. She said Coach Ashraf had brought in a few new ideas which she felt had begun to improve her game.
On her reading of India's chances in Paris, she said, “it would be tough because Indian team has two newcomers aside from us, Dipika and me. Both Dipika and I will have to keep winning and ensure the pressure was less on the third player. The positive is I have lot of faith in Dipika winning all her matches.
“In this competition the number-3 players of most teams are also tough opponents. As always our first goal is getting into the top eight and we will take it forward from there,” she added.
Incidentally, India is seeded nine and clubbed with title-favourite and top seed Egypt, New Zealand (seed 8) and Mexico (seed 13).