Press Articles of Raju Chainani (2000)

 

Squashing glory

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 11-1-2000

MAHARASHTRA squash was on a high in the year 2000. The juniors won five of the seven titles at the nationals and the seniors provided the icing on the cake with a clear-cut victory in the interstate championship. Manish Chotrani, Bikram Uberoi, Mekhala Subedar and Priyanka Yadav had their moments of glory on the senior circuit. It was, however, the little ones who stood out. Vikram Malhotra, Jay Bhagat, Jay Dalai, Mihir Sheth, Maneek Mathur, Nikhil and Vir Seth, Sahil Vora, Supreet Singh. Aditya Manjrekar, Bipin Batra, Karanpal Sethi, Junaid Nathani, Vishal and Mihir Kapoor, Ishaan Balwani, the Jindal boys, Rachita Vora. Alisha Mashruwalla and Natasha Lal... they were the ones fighting it out at many an event. The results were by no means a foregone conclusion a healthy sign for the sport. If one were to handpick three from this lot, it would be Vikram Malhotra, Sahil Vora and Alisha Mashruwalla. Interestingly, Vora opted out of the under-17 category and chose to play the under-19 event at the nationals. He reached the semi-finals and is in line for a place in the squad for the Asian juniors.

There was success for Malhotra and Mashruwalla at the Hong Kong Junior Open. Last week there was a fourth place finish for little Ishaan Balwani at the Scottish Junior Open, where the arctic conditions did not dampen his spirit. Such keenness, such application, such results make the association, parents and supporters look with a sense of pride to the future.

There were more tournaments in Mumbai for the kids and the seniors. The Hong Kong Bank-sponsored Maharashtra State Open had a record purse of Rs 450,000. The RaboBank Indian Junior Open, the Little Masters and the Otters Junior Open gave the younger lot plenty to play for. Air-India came in with a junior satellite and there were seven tickets on offer for the respective age-group winners. The Motilal Sanghi inter-club event has become part of lore and continues to grow every year. Coaching schemes increased and, towards end of the year, world-renowned Chris Clark conducted a clinic for the kids. The Indian Squash Professionals put together a series of events and, for the first time, there was a tournament in Kolhapur.

As 2001 moves into the second gear, there are positive movements towards the public courts. The eggs have not been put in one basket. Instead, several leading lights have been approached and it is all looking good. The recent elections of the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) saw Khalid A-H Ansari and his team be re-elected to another term of office by a thumping 9-1 majority.

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