Press Reports 2005


Squash for cops
   By: A Mid Day Correspondent
    November 25, 2005

Cops, get ready for yet another beating! This time the culprit being the small black rubber ball slated to get a third degree punishment at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana’s brand new squash court, which was inaugurated by police commissioner AN Roy yesterday.

Also present were Khalid AH Ansari, Chairman Emeritus, Squash and Rackets Association of Maharashtra and Ranjan Sanghi, President, SRAM.

Additional Comm of Police, Parambir Singh, was the first to go in for a game. And he showed he wasn’t a bad player.

“Last October I won the doubles championship at Khar Gym with my partner Shiv Malhotra,” said Singh. “Squash is a fine physical exercise and it is great that it can now be enjoyed by our men without spending too much money,” he added.

The squash court is only the second, after the Andheri Sports Club, which will be dedicated to the general public as well as police personnel.

“The SRAM will conduct coaching facilities for cops free of cost,” said SRAM’s Khalid Ansari.  “Any SRAM member can avail of the facility at an annual fee of Rs 240 for adults and Rs 120  for minors,” said SRAM secretary, Shiv Malhotra.

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Cops ‘n’ squash

By Pradeep Vijayakar
Times of India : 3/12/2005

Mumbai: Mumbai’s cops have been a sporting lot. They have played all kinds of sport from hockey, football, cricket, indigenous games, swimming, basketball, martial arts and even rugby. Now, they will be seen in racquet sports. A squash court has come up at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana which has facilities for swimming and cricket, besides a gym. The Police Commissioner will inaugurate the courts on Thursday.

The initiative for the courts was taken by cops Iqbal Shaikh and Sanjay Barve who looked for sponsors. Sah and Sanghi came up with a contribution of Rs 20 lakh and the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra helped build it. Shiv Malhotra, secretary, SRAM, said its members will be able to use the courts between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Police personnel can use it during the balance timings. With proper coaching, kids of the police fraternity could throw up a champ of the future.

Already Ankita Sharma, daughter of encounter cop Pradeep Sharma, is among the top three in the Under-11 girls group. Sharma plays squash and wife Swikriti is an advisor of Mahendra Agarwal’s Indian Squash Professionals, who have played their role in squash development with free coaching for housing societies where squash courts have been built.

During Khalid Ansari’s tenure as president of the SRAM, plans were unveiled for adding more courts to the number in the city. The public courts of Andheri Sports Complex were spruced up with sponsorship by Mid-day who donated Rs 6 lakh. Similar plans were there for the Mulund public courts but they have not been implemented.

There were plans to build courts under many flyovers in the city but nothing concrete has been done. There is a standing offer from the Ruparel Group for courts at their college campus at Matunga. A Thunderdome, if it comes up, could ideally be located there.

It is good to know that the more courts are coming up. If the momentum is kept up, we could even see the courts of Bandra’s Sea Rock Hotel come to life after they ‘died’ after the 1992 blasts.

Film stars like the late Mazhar Khan, Sunny Deol played there and Sanjay Dutt broke many a racquet there. He could get another chance to do so at the Hotel now taken over by the Claridge’s Group.


Lucky Ritwik
Times of India, Mumbai : 22/11/2005 

Jamshed Appoo, race horse owner and squash aficionado, had felt bad when an Indian Ritwik Bhattacharya could not win the Herald Maritime Classic title and the prize money that went with it, $5000 (about Rs 2.5 lakhs). Appoo had designed the event in such a way that those ranked below Ritwik (69) in the PSA rankings were invited. But Ritwik lost to Colombian Bernado Samper and Egyptian Ramy Ashour took the booty. Ritwik had also lost in the tournament’s first edition to Siddharth Suchde. But Appoo was determined to reward Ritwik, who has won a couple of Satellite events, at all costs.

Appoo got his chance when Ritwik beat Saurav Ghoshal to win the National men’s title at the Bombay Gymkhana. He rushed back to his office, came back with a $5,000 cheque and presented it to Ritwik at a party. Sports, indeed, is lucky to have the likes of Capt Apoo who in successive years brought squash legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan to Mumbai to interact with young players.


Ritwik is eyeing top 30 ranking
Times of India, Mumbai : 3/10/2005 

Ritwik Bhatachraya silently voiced his resolution in the 62nd CCI – Western Indian Open Squash Championship at Cricket Club of India on Thursday. 

Neither Mumbai’s Rohan Gracias could match Ritwik’s guile in the pre – quarters nor Vikram Malhotra could stand up to his  marauding form inn the quarterfinal. After a clinical 9-1, 9-1, 9-2 win agaist Rohan, Ritwik bulldozed Vikram 9-0, 9-2, 9-2. 

“I have been playing this tournament a lot,” said Ritwik, the highest ranked Indian in the game (PSA world ranking 59 at present). “This tournament should serve as a perfect warm-up for the forthcoming national championship next week (at the Bombay Gymkhana). I am concentrating on winning this,” he said sanding a loud warning to his rivals. Incidentally, the 26-year-old is also the top seed at the Bombay Gym nationals. 

The current events are also a build-up for the hectic international season ahead. “The Malaysian Open, World Open qualifying and Indian team’s tour to Pakistan in the world team championship,” he specifies. 

Ritwik, who is training under international coach Neil Harvey in England, spells out his ambition too. “Though I dream to become   world no. 1, my focus at present is to break into first 30 in the next couple of years.”

When hopes were almost squashed

(Times of India, Mumbai - Rouge : 29/10/2005)


It was a rainy monsoon season in Bombay 20 years ago, which saw me walk into a squash court for the first time in my life. Up until then, I was an athlete, a sprinter, but that rainy day at the Bombay Gymkhana Club changed all that. What began as an effort to keep fit for my athletic events through the monsoon, was a full-blown love affair three months later. I was hooked and have stayed that way since.

Squash in the late 80s in India was definitely not a mainstream sport, not even for men. There were a handful of good players but it was a very intense, almost secret community where until you were hooked, you couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Nevertheless, it was a passion that saw me go to a university in America on a squash scholarship to try and pursue the sport further. And when I graduated four years later, it seemed inevitable that I would turn pro.

The Women’s International Squash Players’ Association was about a 100 strong in those days. It had about 30 tournaments worldwide, which were segregated into divisions A, B, C and D depending on prize money. Div A was the highest and if you were good enough to win a tournament there, you would get a paycheck of approximately $5000. Not exactly a princely sum when you consider the prize winnings of top ranked tennis players even then.

Anyhow, what all of this meant was that I had to raise money through sponsorships if I had any hope of touring and competing on the world professional circuit. And boy, was that an experience that I will remember for several lifetimes to come! You see, the concept of playing professional sport of any sort didn’t really exist in India in those days. The country suffered from cricket frenzy even then and if it wasn’t cricket, the sponsors weren’t buying. To top that, I was a woman — imagine my gall!! I got all sorts of reactions ranging from an absent-minded pat on my head as though I was still five to outright comments like “Why are you wasting your time and ours? You will get married in a couple of years and then all this will be forgotten.” It was a frustrating time and I came close to calling it quits many a time, and probably would have, if it had not been for the support and backing of those few enlightened people who had the foresight to see that this was an opportunity for Indian sport internationally.

I went on to play the professional circuit for the next five years, working my way up to world number 27 and Asia number 2, while being national champion for those five years, thus proving my detractors wrong.

Today, it’s wonderful to see the Sania Mirzas and Joshna Chinappas (world junior British open squash champion) who are doing India proud internationally. And for whom the prospect of raising money to go and train and play internationally is much more a tangible reality than it ever was.

‘Go for it girls’! The world is your oyster now and India is ready for women to make a mark in the world of international sport.

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