Press Reports 2008



Article in Times of India : 15th April 2008

They are rivals; they are friends. They are young and beautiful and are already the queens in Indian squash. They are from Chennai but are already on their way to becoming the country’s next sporting icons. Meet Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal as they talk about life, sport and everything they love in this all-girl talk for The Times of India.  

On life in Chennai

I got my graduation certificate just three days ago and everyone’s been asking me only thing: which college is crazy enough to give me a degree (laughs aloud). I simply tell them: ‘now I'm beauty and brains put together' (smiles). Since I'm hardly home, I call friends over. I love spending time with my family, especially with my younger brother (Gaurav).

Dipika: I'm in Chennai till the 19th of this month and all that I plan to do is chill out with friends. Maybe, do a few modelling assignments.

On family:

My parents struggled a lot initially to find sponsors. Whatever resources they had were all spent towards my squash dreams. My brother was a compromised child that way. But now, he's the priority. And, he orders me around and gets whatever he wants when I'm traveling abroad. (smiles). He's the big bully. He's got a very sharp tongue. He's the only one who can put me in my place. Unlike my dad, my mom doesn't follow squash. And just then, Mrs Chinnappa walks into the tastefully done living room and interrupts the conversation: ‘You are playing some Liverpool tournament next, right Josh?' That's enough to invite a roar of laughter from everybody in the room. 'I'll tell Nicole (World No. 1 Nicole David of Malaysia) that my mom called the British Open -- which is like tennis’ Wimbledon – a Liverpool tournament! How could you say something like that mom?' (giggles all around).

Dipika: Being the youngest of three sisters, I'm the pampered kid in the family. We get along like a house on fire. Divya (the eldest one) and Dia are both into their books while I'm the sporty one.

On education:

My mother always saw to it that my education never suffered. ‘What if you get injured and cannot play? You will need education to support yourself,’ was something she always told me. But I've always lived on the edge as far as education is concerned. I've never been the kind who'd prepare for weeks before exams. I always studied eight hours before the paper because I loved the thrill of finishing X lessons in Y amount of time. Also, I studied only 60% of the lessons and whatever I studied would invariably come in the exams. People may think I'm arrogant but that's how I am. Getting A+ is not my priority. Squash is. Even though I'm an English Literature graduate from Ethiraj College, I don't claim that my English is super (winks).

Dipika: Since Josh and Sourav (Ghoshal) studied in the same school (Lady Andal), they were aware of our training schedules. They've been very supportive all throughout. I have my XII board exams coming up in October.

On the WISPA tour:

Oh, I think I was born to play this game. (Adds after a pause)... the girls are friendly and I get along with most of them. Nicole and I get along really well because we travel for the Asian events together. However, there are a few girls who don't play the game in the true spirit. They block you, abuse you on the court but I never give it back to them. I simply approach the referee. I can be really mean, trust me (stares you in the eye) but I don't wanna be. There have been times when I've had bruises on my body after a match and then the same opponent has tried to be friendly off-court. I don't relate to that because I think a lot of what you are reflects on the court. You can't be so vastly different on and off it. So, that way I'm a little selective about who I hang out with on the circuit. And, I never party when I'm abroad, even if my friends do.

Dipika: There have been instances when players have blocked me during a match but I haven't encountered sledging on court so far.

On training:

Oh, I've become more disciplined after moving into my grandparent's house (giggles). It's closer to the ICL academy where I train, so it's convenient. At home, my parents don't tell me anything, I do whatever I want. But at my grandparent's place, I have my meals on time and am punctual for my practice too. I visit my parents during weekends and spoil myself crazy. No training on weekends (giggles aloud). It's all about hanging out with friends and indulging in all kinds of food, including chocolates. I'm a chocaholic. I can't have one bar at a time so it's like either 6-7 at a time or none. I also train in London under coach Malcolm Wilstrop.

Dipika: I’m based in Kuwait now and training with former pro Amir Wagih. He's like a father figure to me there. There have been a lot of controversies around me in recent times and he's stood by me through thick and thin.

On themselves:

I like to think I'm good at whatever I do (giggles). Even though I took up squash, I was pretty good at tennis and badminton too. After a tennis match with a friend, I’m like ‘don't you think I'm too good’ (adds giggling) and he has no choice but to say ‘yes Josh’ (laughs even more). I’m very vivacious and chirpy, unlike my girlie gang.

Dipika: I just love shopping (giggles). Now that I have my own credit card, I think I’ve become worse. (Joshna interrupts, saying) ...she would marry any guy who would take care of her credit card bills and mobile expenses... (laughs aloud, before asking Dipika) ‘so, how much was the mobile bill this time, babe?’ ‘Don't' even ask’ is all Dipika says before bursting into peels of laughter.

On being religious:

I'm not religious.

Dipika: I'm very religious. I pray before every match. And, I pray at the church, temple and mosque. I wear a cross on my neck, this thread (pointing to the thick red band on her right hand) is from the dargah and I keep packets of vibhuti which I picked up from a temple.

On having each other for company on the Tour:

Joshna: We don't normally play the same tournaments and I'm much senior to her, so I'm used to being on my own. But, whenever we are together we have a lot of fun... (Dipika butts in ) ‘shopping. Remember, Josh how we shopped like crazy in Malaysia last time’ (both laugh aloud).

On being fashion conscious:

I’m into high-end designer wear. I swear by Abercrombie (pointing to her tee), Topshop, Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel, Mango. I shopped like crazy when I was in States last year. LA, NY have a great range of clothes. I like to wear all colours from orange to pink. I do wear Indian clothes on special occasions like festivals and weddings, but I’m home in my denims. I think I’m gonna get married in jeans because the only time I wore a sari, I ended up looking like Chameli (laughs out loud, adding) as it was red and blue. I'm not too much of a jewellery person though.

Dipika: I'm very conscious of what I wear on court. I love (Maria) Sharapova and Ana (Ivanovic). For me, it's important that I look good on court because I don't feel comfortable otherwise. I swear by Forever 21. I love to shop in America and Australia. People say Paris has great stuff but I didn't quite like anything there. Maybe, I went to the wrong places.  

You can see I love jewellery (pointing to the four studs on the top of her ear and the beautiful green jadau danglers which she picked from Ajmer). ‘Hey you forgot about the anklet,’ adds Joshna teasingly. I love wearing Indian clothes. I wear them for the monthly prayer services we have at home.

On the craziest thing they've done:

Joshna: I got my belly pierced after I lost a match. I wanted to feel some pain and so got it done. Once I got my eyebrow pierced too. I also got the Smoking Devil tattoo on my back.  

Dipika: At the moment everything around me is pink. I've painted my room pink. I'm picking up only pink outfits these days. And, I recently bought this really expensive camera just because it was pink.

On Movies

I can watch anything from English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The last two with sub-titles though. Actually, I watch English flicks with sub-titles too (giggles).

Dipika: I like Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Heroes. I watched OC but it got very boring in the fourth season.

On Music

I like a lot of house music and old English numbers of the 80s.

Dipika: My best friend is part of a band called Substance. They are into rock music and although they are all my age, they seem to be doing pretty well. I like their work.

On modeling/ acting offers

Joshna: I did a couple of shoots for my sponsors but otherwise movies and modelling is a strict no no.  

Dipika: I got an offer to act in a Malayalam film but I turned it down. I also got an offer to star opposite Madhavan. I really wanted to do the film, but my dad refused. But if I get a chance to work with Aamir Khan or Hrithik Roshan I'd love to do it (giggles).

Joshna loses in final
Article in The Times of India, March 27, 2008.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26: Joshna Chinappa's agonising wait for her maiden WISPA title continued as the Indian number one went down in straight games to top seed Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand in the final of the NSC Star Series squash tournament here on Wednesday.

The reigning national champion lost 1-9 2-9 8-10 in a 30-minute clash to lose her second successive final.

Sixth seeded Joshna, who was blown away in the opening two games, tried to claw her way back in the third game but Hawkes weathered the late fightback by the Indian.

The loss was yet another heartbreak for Joshna, who had lost in the finals of Vietnam Open a fortnight ago.

For Hawkes, the win here has given the Kiwi her second WISPA title in three years.  


No 'priority', SRFI sticks to old ways

Article in Hindustan Times

By Ajai Masand, New Delhi, March 24, 2008

THE SQUASH Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) is yet to wake up to the fact that squash has become a 'priority' sport in the country. In yet another example of their arbitrary style of functioning, all norms of trials and selection were thrown to the wind to accommodate certain players so that they could participate in the Qatar Junior Open from March 14 to 18.

All four players in the U-15 team — Sajid Hussain, Roshan Kanna, Deepak Mishra and Kush Kumar — participated in the tournament despite the fact that there are more than a dozen better players in the country. National coach Cyrus Poncha, when contacted said, it was an invitational tournament and individual players foot their own bill. "There was no need for trials or selection as it was an invitational tournament. The players who wanted to participate approached us and we simply assisted them," said Poncha. "There wasn't any team event in the championships," he added. But contrary to Poncha's comments, India also participated in the team category where it finished fifth, higher only to Qatar who finished last.

Also, the country's top age group players didn't even have an idea about the dates of the tournament and were not apprised by the national coach. Surprisingly, exactly four players 'applied' and all of them were automatically selected to represent the country. What also defies logic is the fact that Pakistan sent its best juniors like Farhan Zaman and Nasir Iqbal among others and they won all the four individual age-group titles in the Under-19, U-17, U-15 and U-13 categories as also the team championships. In fact, the Indian team lost 3-0 to Pakistan in the U-15 category with Sajid being thrashed by Pak's Nasir Iqbal 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.

The irony doesn't end here. Sajid was India's 'top seed' for the Qatar event. But back home in India, he was a reserve in the Delhi inter-state u-15 team in 2007 and lost in the third round at the junior nationals in Ajmer. If the SRFI says it didn't select the team, then who gave Sajid the top seeding?

In the individual championships, he finished a poor 10th out of 12 competitors, while Roshan Kanna, the national u-11 runner-up, came 7th. India can boast of a strong field in the u-15 category, with the likes of national champion Mahesh Mangonkar, runner-up Abhishek Pradhan, Akash Bornwankar (4th position) and the likes and still they chose Sajid Hussain and Roshan Kanna?

The government guidelines say: "For proposal at 'no cost to government', the selection procedures as laid down in the guidelines must be followed." In this case, probably all norms seems to have been flouted.


Gagged and squashed
Article in Hindustan times, Mumbai, Saturday, March 15, 2008

By Ajai Masand, New Delhi, March 14

SRFI bars players, parents from going public with their grievances

SMARTING FROM the recent furore over the omission of British Open junior champion Dipika Pallikal for the Asian championship, the Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) has issued a gag order on players, warning them of stringent action if they air their grievances in the media. 

In a letter to all affiliated units, associate members, clubs and colleges, the SRFI has issued an Indian Hockey Federation-style order; a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, in which it says that the federation’s disciplinary committee would take action as it deems fit against the ‘erring’ players. 

The letter, signed by SRFI Secretary General N Ramachandran, literally questions the fundamental rights of a player / official to air his/her grievances. 

It reads: “We wish to bring to your notice that in the recent past we have had several instances of parents / coaches / players writing letters to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to deliberately discredit the functioning of the federation on various issues.  In some cases, articles criticizing the functioning have been channeled through the Government of India observer (Brigadier Raj Manchanda).” 

Manchanda, reacting to the comments, said he was aware of a letter circulated to affiliated units and said it infringed on the fundamental right to speech. 

“ If they (SRFI) are not giving any clarification on issues of team selection, holding of camps and other related issues, that’s just being nasty. What recourse am I left with if they don’t want to call me during team selection and other important meetings? I have to go directly to the Ministry,” he said. 

The letter warns: “The president/secretary-general are authorized to take disciplinary action on a player/players/associations who indulge in any undersirable activity which will bring discredit/ affect the functioning of the federatin…There have been instances where parents have directly approached the electronic and print media with false and incorrect information to deliberately discredit the functioning of the federation. Such actions are against the rules and regulations of federation.” 

The SRFI has been in the midst of controversy with litigation being filed against them in the Delhi High Court questioning why Pallikal, the second- ranked squash player in the country, and Sandeep Jhangra, were dropped from the Asian Championships squad recently. 

A bigger controversy involves whether the 2006 Doha Asian Games bronze medal, clinched by Saurav Ghosal, was fixed.

The latest development comes at a time when Andrew Shelly, the Women’s International Squash Players Association (WISPA) chief executive, was reportedly meeting Ramachandran in Delhi. 

All efforts to contact Ramachandran were in vain, while national coach Cyrus Poncha said it would be “Pretty of me if I replied to such queries.”

Chief consultant coach S. Maniam disconnected his phone. 

Questioned on the order, I Srinivas, Joint Secretary of the Sports Ministry, said that fedrations were self-regulatory bodies and framed their rules, “but if there are serious issues with players/parents, there was no restriction on them coming directly to the ministry ir going to the Indian Olympic Association.”

A matter of squashing the players fundamental rights.

Source: Scanned Article

Jagtap claims French Junior title
Article in Times of India, Mumbai, 19th Feb, 2008

Pradeep Vijayakar | TNN

Mumbai: Mumbai lad Aditya Jagtap added to his growing reputation in junior international squash when winning the under-17 title in the French Junior Tournament, a Super Series tournament in the European Circuit, which ended on Saturday in Marseille.  

According to his father Ravi, Aditya beat Lucas Serme of France 9-10, 10-8, 9-4, 9-1 in the final. In the semifinal Aditya beat Demont Geoffrey also from France 10-8, 9-2, 9-3.

This was his third victory in the European Circuit Super Series tournament. He had already won Nordic Jr Open in 2006 and German Jr Open in 2007. He was also runner-up in Nordic Junior Open and Belgian Jr Open in 2007. This victory gives Aditya, who studies in Bombay Scottish, the No 2 ranking in European Squash Federation lists.  

Aditya’s performances at the British Junior Open 2008 were not truly appreciated. Seeded 9/16 he shocked No 2 seed and Pakistan U-17 National Champion Farhan Zaman before meeting the eventual champ, Karmin Abdel Awad barely six hours later. Aditya and Gawad from Egypt played for 83 minutes and Awad won 3-9, 9-4, 7-9, 9-2, 9-7.The win over Farhan was the the biggest win of Aditya’s career. Aditya secured 7th position in the World’s most prestigious junior squash tournament.

Joshna concedes semis tie

Article in Times of India, Mumbai 19th Feb 2008.

India’s Joshna Chinappa conceded her semifinal to Rebecca Chiu 9-0, 9-2 in the Asian Squash Championship in Kuwait last week. Malaysia scored a double by winning both men’s and women’s events. No 1 seed Nicol David beat Hong Kong’s Chiu 9-0, 9-2, 9-0 for the women’s title. Aslan Iskander beat Ong Beng Hee 5-9, 8-10, 9-5, 9-0, 9-7 in an all-Malaysian men’s final.



Fixing charges take sheen out of India’s Asiad bronzedd
Article in Hindustan Times, Mumbai, February 15, 2008

It was almost as if this script was written with India in mind. And, perhaps it was.
In December 2006, India won a rare bronze medal for squash in the last Asian Games at Doha. But, in an equally rare circumstance and one that is peculiar, India knew they were assured of a bronze even before the quarterfinals began.
(With just two players of every nationality participating in the Games, it was strange (at the very least) how the two Indian seeded players were clubbed in the lower half of the draw, while the two Pakistani seeds — Mansoor Zaman and Aamir Atlas — came together in the upper half.) 

How? Well, the quarterfinal draw saw Indians Ritwick Bhattacharya and Saurav Ghosal pitted against each other in the lower half. 

One of them would naturally go through to the semifinal and in the Asian Games, if you reach the last four, you are assured of at least a bronze.

Two things must be noted here. First, only two players per country are allowed. And if both reach the quarterfinal, then there are written guidelines that are generally followed. According to the Asian Squash Federation (ASF) rulebook for events like the Asian Games: “It is customary to ensure that wherever possible players of the same nationality do not meet each other in the first round and are preferably separated into the top and bottom halves of the draw.” 

With just two players of every nationality participating in the Games, it was strange (at the very least) how the two Indian seeded players were clubbed in the lower half of the draw, while the two Pakistani seeds — Mansoor Zaman and Aamir Atlas — came together in the upper half. 

It also was extremely convenient (or lucky), that with players from 15 Asian countries, ranging from Jordan to the Philippines in a draw of 32, only Indian and Pakistani players were clubbed in the same sides. 

Now who made the Asian Games draw and where?

On November 28, India’s national coach, Cyrus Poncha, announced the draw in Chennai in the presence of the ASF president and Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) secretary, N Ramachandran. India’s national consultant coach S Maniam (also Ghoshal’s coach) set the seedings, while Fahim Gul (the Pakistani national coach) and Tony Choi of the Malaysian federation were the other members of the draw committee.
The Indian government appointed an observer for squash, Brigadier Raj Manchanda - a six-time national champion himself – who looked into the matter and his remarks in his final report to the Ministry (a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times) make for interesting reading. “At the Asian Games 2006, we had the distinction of getting the bronze. This would have been indeed a very commendable achievement in the face of formidable players from Malaysia and Pakistan. However, our players did not have to play them till the semifinals; they played each other in the quarterfinal (second round), which ensured a place for an Indian player in the semifinal and thus a bronze medal. The draws were made by the SRFI-run ASF and credit goes to them for making a draw like that…” 

He continued, “… it would, however, have been much more satisfying if the bronze had been won with our two top players in different halves of the draw - as is done in all individual games where there are only two participants per country - rather than clubbing them in the same half against each other in the quarterfinal which ensured a bronze medal.” 

At the Asian Championships held in Taiwan in February 2006, the PSA (Professional Squash Association)/WISPA (Women’s International Squash Professional Association) rankings were used to make the draw, which is the norm. Four Pakistanis made the quarters but did not play each other till the semifinals. Both Bhattacharya (5) and Ghoshal (6) lost to Pakistan’s Mansoor Zaman (4) and Shahid Zaman (3) respectively. Thus, no Indian made the semifinals. 

At the Asian Games, the PSA/WISPA ranking wasn’t used. This only happens when the rankings of players have not been documented or there is a discrepancy on their current form. A majority of those who played the Asian Championships and the Asian Games were common, so this was not the case here.
Ramachandran could not be contacted despite repeated attempts over several days to seek clarity on the matter. But all of what we have stated here is documented. India winning medals in multidisciplinary events is rare. So they are extremely lucky that at least this one was ensured.

Scanned Article of Hindustan Times

Ghosal, Joshna advance; Ritwik bows out of Asian C'ship
Article in Hindustan Times, Mumbai, Kuwait, February 14, 2008

Saurav Ghosal and Siddharth Suchde were the only Indians left in the men's singles event after two of their compatriots, including former national champion Ritwik Bhattacharya, crashed out in the second round of the Asian Squash Championships here. 

Among the women, national champion Joshna Chinappa and fellow Indian Anwesha Reddy also moved into the second round. 

Ghosal advanced to the third round of the prestigious tournament after beating Kuwaiti Nasser Al Rashed 9-3 9-1 9-2 in the opening round and another local hope Ali B Al-Ramezi 9-2 9-2 9-2 in the second round yesterday. 

The reigning national champion will now take on Hong Kong's Max Lee in the third round. 

Suchde, meanwhile, first got the better of Iranian Mahd Reza Sadeghpour 9-6 9-5 9-1 in a 44-minute contest before defeating Taipei's Huang Cheng Yao in the second round. 

However, Ritwik and Naresh Kumar crashed out in the second round. Ritwik breezed past Kuwaiti Shallan Ahmed 9-7 9-3 9-1 in merely 19 minutes before Kuwaiti Mohd Y Hajeyah tamed the Indian 9-4 3-9 9-5 6-9 10-8 in a 93-minute battle. 

Naresh suffered a similar fate. After a comfortable 9-0 9-3 9-5 win over Sri Lankan Aruna Hewage, he was outplayed 1-9 4-9 1-9 by Hong Kong's Wong Wai Hang. 

In the women's section, where India is without British Junior Open champion Dipika Pallikal, who was omitted from the team for not attending a mandatory camp, both Joshna and Anwesha moved into the second round. 

Joshna thrashed China's Wu Zhen Zhen 9-0 9-4 9-1 in just 17 minutes to set up a clash with Pakistan's Maria Toor, while Anwesh defeated Taipei's Hsieh Ssu Han 9-1 9-0 9-1 and will now be up against Malaysian Sharon Wee. 

Harita Om Prakash and Surabhi Misra, however, crashed out in the opening round. 

While Harita lost Japan's Chnatsu Matsui 4-9 0-9 3-9, Surbhi went down to Hong Kong's Christina Mak 0-9 6-9 7-9.


Mens’ Singles: 

Rd 1: Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Nasser Al Rashed (Kuw) 9-3, 9-1, 9-2;
Rd 2: Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Ali B Al-Ramezi (Kuw) 9-2, 9-2, 9-2;
Rd 1: Siddharth Suchde (Ind) bt Mahd Reza Sadegh-Pour (Ira) 9-6, 9-5, 9-1;
Rd 1: Ritwik Bhattacharya (Ind) bt Shallan Ahmed (Kuw) 9-7, 9-3, 9-1;
Rd 2: Mohd Y Hajeyah (Kuw) bt Ritwik Bhattacharya (Ind) 9-4, 3-9, 9-5, 6-9, 10-8
Rd 1: Naresh Kumar (In) bt Aruna Hewage (Sri) 9-0, 3-9, 9-5;
Rd 2: Wong Wai Hang (Chn) bt Naresh Kumar (Ind) 9-1, 9-4, 9-1.

Suchde Scores Maiden PSA Title In St Louis

15th January 2008

Indian Siddharth Suchde secured his maiden PSA Tour title in some style in the USA after upsetting two higher-seeded players to reach the final of the Regions Racquet Club Pro Squash Series at the Racquet Club in St Louis.

The US-based eighth seed from Mumbai removed Canada's fourth seed Ian Power in the quarter-finals before toppling top-seeded Australian Tony James in straight games in the semi-finals.

His unseeded opponent
Cesar Salazar reached the final after overcoming seeds in the three earlier rounds. 

But the 20-year-old Mexican was no match for Suchde in the final as the 22-year-old former US Intercollegiate champion claimed a 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 victory, and his first PSA title success since joining the Association almost four years ago.

Fit Nandrajog back, is ready for the long haul

Times of India, Delhi edition : 23rd January 2008

New Delhi: Comparing the two Variable of the line graph of the ranking history on the net. One comes to a conclusion that Gaurav Nandrajog must be going through one of the finest time of his professional squash career- considering that he achieved his higest ranking of 130 in the world recently. But that impression lasts only till you meet him. After all, a graph doesn’t have the capacity to spell out the emotional quotient of a sportsman.           

“You would guess that I must have improved my game between 2005 and 2007 given the fact that I’ve moved up from207 to 130 in rankings in that period. But the reality is I’ve been aching all through the last two years,” said the 23-year-old Nandrajog. “ I was obsessed about my fitness, I couldn’t relax for three hours straight. I had to do some activity or the other. Otherwise, I thought I was lagging behind in fitness. 

“Another mi8stek I made repeatedly over the last two years was that I didn’t distinguish between pre-season training and post-season training. After a season would end I would end I would start straight off with eight hour of fitness training. I learn’t it late and all by myself that when you start off on your fitness regime after a gap, one has to build up the intensity of the program gradually. But nobody told me about it and I didn’t listen to myown body. Even if I was injured I would still train leading to recurring injuries.” 

But despite “hurting” in his ankle, Nandrajog chugged along and still managed to put up quite a good show which is evedent from his ranking history (he climbed 65 places in 2007). Nandrajog is although peeved with himself for losing some close matches. “In the last four tournaments, I lost almost all my matches in five setters. Those matches could have gone either way.” 

At the last quarter of 2007, Nandrajog took a break, sorted his mind out and started taking it easy as far as his fitness is concerned and as a result, the India No.3 is back at hundred per cent and is planning to move to Canada to further his career and sharpen his skills.  “ I will train with Jonathan Power (the former world No.1) in Canada.  I need to move out of India.  It’s making me uncomfortable practicing with juniors,” stated the Delhi-based player. 

“I knock with them everyday and it’s helping their game but I’m stuck at the same level.  There will at least be two or three guys in the top 30 of the world being coached at the Willingdon Club (Toronto).  It would be immensely helpful to my game if I get to knock with them everyday.” 

Needless to sat that for those four months that he is planning to stay in Canada, Nandrajog is desperately is looking for funding. 

The Canada sojourn, Nandrajog hopes, will reduce the chasm between Sourav Ghosal (India No.1 and world No.47), Ritwik Bhattacharya (India No.2 and world No.61) and himself.  Nandrajog has been No.1 in U-15, U-17 and U-19 in India but since U-19, for the last five years, Saurav Ghosal has always beaten him. “Saurav has gone ahead of me because he built himself up slowly, more systematically. Where as I went boom and then cracked, mentally. I’m sure 2008 is going  to me one of my best years. I am not going to be impulsive, I have promised myself.”


Reality check for Indian juniors 

Article in HindustanTimes (January 8, 2008) New Delhi  

INDIANS PLAYERS were brought down to earth after their 'superb' performance in the Scottish Junior Open squash tournament in late December last year. Barring Anwesha Reddy and eventual U-17 champion Dipika Pallikal, all exited before the semifinal round in the British Open which was held at Sheffied immediately after the Scottish sojourn.

The chief consultant coach, S. Maniam, had told the Hindustan Times after the 'great' performance at the Scottish Open, that he was hopeful of a good performance in England too. However, things seem to have gone terribly awry. Maniam had said that the Scottish Open would serve to acclimatise the players for the tougher British Open. The Indians had won a whopping four age-group titles and finished runners-up in two categories.

On January 3, HT had quoted Squash Racquet Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Datuk Sani Karim as saying that the Scottish Open was a 'low-grade' tournament and that the SRAM would prefer spending money in a better way.

At the British Open, Pallikal, who left the SRFI-ICL academy in Chennai and is now training under Egyptian coach Amir Wagih, was the only bright spot as she won the U-17 title beating defending champion for the last five years, Heba El Torky. She had skipped the Scottish Open.

Barring Reddy who exited in the quarterfinal, the rest could not go beyond the third round (Pre-quarterfinals) (see box).

Maniam, however, put up a brave front. "I am extremely satisfied with the performance," he said adding, "Dipika won the U-17 gold which is a major achievement, while Anwesha Reddy entered the quarterfinals of the Under-17 category…the players had performed to expectation."

Interestingly, the other player to do well at the British Open was Aditya Jagtap, who too did not take part in the Scottish Open. He was a bit unlucky but his achievements were no less commendable, considering that he beat Pakistani U-17 champion and second-seed Farhan Zaman 3-2 and lost in the quarterfinals to Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad in a marathon 83-minute match. Gawad went on to win the tournament by beating the top seeded player of his country.

SCOTTISH OPEN                                          

Boys (U-19) : Harinderpal Sandhu (champion)                
(U-17) : Karan Mallik (runner-up)                             
(U-15) : Mahesh Mangaonkar (champion)                   
(U-11) : Sandeep Ramchandran (champion)                
Girls (U-17) : Anwesha Reddy                                  
(U15) : B. Aprajitha (runner-up)   

(Six players who failed in both tournaments have been ignored)

Lost in 3rd rd
Lost in 1st rd
Lost in 3rd rd
Lost in 1st rd (in U-13 category)
Lost in QF
Lost in 1st rd


Joshna lauds Deepika’s feat  
Article in The Times of India, Mumbai : 09/01/2008

 “Brilliant, great news for Indian Squash,” Were the Words with which India squash queen Joshna Chinappa reacted to the triumph of her sparring partner Deepika Pallikal in the U-17 event of the British Junior Open at Abbeydale in Sheffield U.K. on Sunday. 

Deepika, who beat Egyptian top seed Hebael Torky, emulated Joshna who won the same title in 2003. Joshna reached the u-19 final in 2004 as a 17-year-old and won the u-19 title in 2005 a year after Saurav Ghoshal won the boys u-19 title. 

“She took a game off me at the Nationals final in 2006, she’s improved,” said Joshna who’s back from South Africa where she worked with a sports a psychologist and is training for the China Open, a grade II event. 

Joshna had taken six years to win her first title.  Deepika had been attempting for five years, never getting past the last eight.  This time too Canadian top seed Laura Hemmell looked like coming in the way but Deepika hung on to win the quarterfinal tie, three of the four games going to extra points.  Deepika, the dusky beauty, is also a successful model and has had Tamil film offers.  But mother Susan, a former India women’s cricketer, kept her focus on squash sending her to Egypt for training with top coaches like Mohammed Essam Saleh. 

Deepika’s grandma represented Kerala state in athletics, grandpa represented three states in basketball, father played cricket for his college and mother Susan for India and sister Diya plays basketball.  Deepika won the Dutch, French, Australian and Scottish Opens but not the British until she broke the five-year jinx Sunday. 

Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globosport and her parents have spared nothing to make Deepika’s game grow.  They have rented an apartment in Cairo all year round so that Deepika can train there from time to time.

Deepika wins British Junior u-17 title 

7th January 2008 : By Pradeep Vijayakar 

Deepika beat Egyptian top seed Heba El Torky 9-6,5-9,9-6,1-9,9-5 to win the British Junior Open U-17 title at Abbeydale in U.K. Deepika was seeded 5-8.She had won a battle royale against Canadian second seed Laura Gemmell 9-10,9-4,10-9,10-9. 

For years Deepika Pallikal was in the shadow of Joshna Chinappa. Now she is finally out of it and has gone one better by beating an Egyptian. Joshna has usually come a cropper against her Egyptian arch-rival, Omneya. 

One remembers seeing a young Deepika in events in Mumbai. She was the dusky beauty. It was sad to see her in tears losing to Anwesha  an u-15 final at the Little Masters. But the smile was back when she won the u-17 final beating Anwesha. Anwesha was also there at Abbeydale losing in the last eight. Dipika  Rebecca Pallikal, to give her full name, was born on September 21. Sport runs in the family. 

Grandmom  represented Kerala state in athletics,  grandpa  represented  three states in basketball. Father played cricket for his college and  mother Susan represented India in cricket. One sister Diya plays basketball  while the other  Divya’s sport  is cheering Deepika. 

Deepika  had won the  German, Indian ever to break into the top 100 of squash (WISPA ranking) rankings rising to a Dutch, French, Australian and Scottish Opens but not the British in five attempts. She is only the second career-high 91 in May 2007. 

Her family and Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globosport spared nothing to make her game grow. They had an apartment in Cairo where she trained from time to time. 

Deepika  was offered to star in Tamil movies which she refused for the moment as squash was her passion. The year 2001  was  the  turning point in her career. She gave up tennis for squash. From the age of nine she was guided by Cryus Poncha. She gave notice by beating the boys of her age. She got membership to the India Cements Squash Academy in 2002. She became the National Champion at the age of 11 and never looked back.

Indians play as the best stay away 
(Article in Hindustan Times, Delhi : 3rd January 2008) 

THE 'SUPERB' performance of Indian squash players in the Scottish Junior Open, which concluded on December 31, may be heartening news for the country's squash fraternity. So what if the Squash Racquet Association of Malaysia (SRAM) put it in the category of 'low-rate' events and decided conserving resources and not sending a team. 

Six Indian in various age-groups entered finals and five of them Sandeep Ramchandran (U-11), Mahesh Mangaonkar (U-15), Karan Malik (U-17), Harinderpal Singh (U19) and Anwesha Reddy (U-17) emerged champions. But the fact that a country like Malaysia, known for producing world-class players, gave it the go-by and concentrate on the British Open, which kicked off on Wednesday, instead flies in the face of the competitiveness of the Scottish Open. 

In an article in the Malaysian daily 'The Star' SRAM president Datuk Sani Karim has been quoted as saying that, "Our players won honours in the Scottish Junior Open in the absence of top players. But when they compete in the British Junior Open (immediately after the Scottish Open), they get knocked out in early rounds. It's no point basking in the glory of a low-rate meet and then do badly in a more prestigious championship," Sani Karim was quoted as saying. 

The SRAM president added that, "Our objective is to expose players to high-level tournaments and see where they stand against the best in the world… It's better to train at home and use the money for other top-class tournaments. We want our players to continue improving on their game and rankings and, to achieve that, they need to get the correct exposure." 

English and European juniors share SRAM's view. In none of the eight categories barring one did any top 10 player of the Europe Squash Federation participate. Even the English ignored it this age-group tournament. The top and second seeds in the boys' U-19 at the Scottish Open were ranked 12th and 36th respectively by the European Squash Federation (ESF). 

National consultant coach S. Maniam said from Chennai: "The Scottish Open is a good international tournament. Every national federation has its priorities. The SRAM might be having their own priorities." 

Asked if the Indians would bring the same laurels in the British Open, which began on Wednesday, he replied in the affirmative. "They have been acclimatised for the British Open in Scotland and that's what we wanted." Time will tell.