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Press Report 1977


Know Your Stars...

Sports week  01-05-1977                                                              

I TOOK up the game of squash in 1958 in Cathedral High School, Bombay at the age of 12. I was very fortunate to have the legendary Yousuf Khan as my coach and under him my agility, fitness and stroke play developed and I was able to move into top bracket.

I created a sensation in 1964 by becoming the first person ever to win the junior and senior titles simultaneously at the Western India championships which are virtually a dress rehearsal of the Nationals.

The following year was one of the best of my career as I won the National men's and juniors' titles convincingly and then went on to become the lone Indian ever to win the Drysdale Cup, considered to be the world junior championships.

The same year I had to leave India for higher studies at Harvard. American squash is a modified version of the English game which is played in India. However, I adapted myself to the hard ball and the modifications to win the American National title twice and the Canadian and Mexican titles, once each.

In between my services were required for India in the inaugural World Cup competition in Australia, A strained muscle hampered me in the championships, but I did create a fine impression, though I could not go far, I was rated as a fine young player in the world then. Unfortunately, my staying in the USA prevented me from regularly playing the English game and that was the reason I was unable to reach to the top of the international ladder.

My finest moment came when I received the Arjuna Award from the Government of India in 1969.

Since my return to India in 1971, I have dominated the Indian squash scene as no other player has done, Winning the National crown has become a habit with me. In the last six years I have lost only two matches.


The secret of my success silky smooth action, lightning reflexes, superb wrist work and deceptive strokes. A squash player must cultivate all these points if he hopes to make it to the top. If you want to play attacking squash, you must pick the ball as soon as possible. This will ensure that you are not cornered at the back of the court. Speed and fitness are the two important factors that all youngsters should note.

Two years ago I took up the honorary secretary's post of the Squash Rackets Association of India to get the game moving. This is a very difficult task. But my business keeps me busy throughout the year and in a way has affected my game to a certain extent. For the same reasons, I could not accompany the Indian team to Pakistan and England in early 1976. But I helped the four players selected for the tours in their training programme in Bombay.

I am always available if youngsters want to train with me. In fact, Nikhilesh Senapati, Soli Colah, Anant Nayak and Gajendar Singh have been training with me for some years now, They are all promising the first two have already represented India and should serve India for years to come.

I have no plans for retiring in immediate future. I would like to go on for a few more years.



Sports Week 18-9-77

The Cricket Club of India team won the annual Motilal Sanghi Cup Squash League in Bombay last week. winning all their four matches. The United Services Club team were the runners-up. The other teams were Bombay Gymkhana, Willingdon Club and Otters Club.

The women's team was won by Willingdon Club.

A distinguished gathering of leading squash players of the city, the organisers and sport lovers were present at the prize distribution held at the United Services Club on Saturday night.

Anil Nayar supreme again

Sports week  06-02-1977                                                                 

ANIL NAYAR is the undisputed A king of Indian Squash he won the National title for the sixth time at the 23rd National Squash Championships, sponsored by Mercantile Bank and held at the prestigious CCI courts recently.

Jolted by defeats at the hands of youngsters Senapati and Colah in recent months, Nayar came back in grand style to avenge his defeats convincingly and take the crown. In the women's section, Bhuwaneshwari Kumari easily beat her cousin Nandini Kumari, whilst Shyamlal Verma extended his hold on the professional's title for yet another year.

The early rounds of the tournament were marred by a shocking one-day boycott by seven Services players on grounds of "illness", but it is well known that this action was taken because the Services contingent was unhappy with the draw. They felt that their No. 1 Capt. Manchanda (No. 4 seed) should have been seeded above Fali Madon (No- 3 seed) and that last year's quarter-finalist Lt. A. N. Misra should have been seeded. It is a fact that Manchanda had defeated Madon in their last encounter, but that was way back in last February. Neither Manchanda nor Misra had participated in any open tournaments on the domestic circuit during the present season, and hence their present form was unknown. There is very little to choose between Madon, Manchanda and Soli Colah and it would not have been a total surprise if Colah was seeded No. 3.

What was really intriguing is that the draw was announced four days before the tournament began and the Services players Took their action only after all of them had played their first round matches. The tournament organisers sportingly reinstated the Services players in the draw on the following day, even though it meant upsetting the tournament schedule. Obviously the Services squad returned to the fray under instructions from higher authorities.

The first two rounds saw only a few good matches a remarkable recovery by Ramesh Nayak (No. 6 seed) against Nawin Deo, winning after being two games down and trailing 0-6 in the third; Anil Nayar having to stretch to beat a gallant Shiv Karan Singh; and Gajendar Singh dropping a game to Jimmy Tata. 

Another noticeable result in the 2nd round was Lt. A. N. Misra's shocking display while losing to Adriain Karnik without winning a single point in a match which Misra should have easily won. Upset at not having been seeded, Misra seemed to throw away his match a most disgusting and unsporting act. The pre quarter finals saw Soli Colah (No. 5 seed) end Capt Manchanda drop a game apiece to Capt Swaminathan and Lt. Yadva respectively, whilst all the other seeds won easily. 

In the quarter-finals, 19-year-old Gajendar Singh became the only player to lake a game of Anil Nayar. Probably Nayar did relax a bit in this match, but there is no doubt that the fit and agile Gajendar played magnificently, scoring well with his 'nick' shots. Nikhilesh Senapati comfortably beat 18-year-old Junior National champ, Anant Nayak. Nayak could certainly have played better, but he seemed to crack under pressure as he lost a commanding 8-1 lead in the second game and the match without scoring another point.

The other two quarter-finals were thrilling affairs. Fali Madon just about scraped past Ramesh Nayak in a 100-minute match, while Manchanda edged out Colah, taking about the same time. The Madon-Nayak match was one based on retrieving, with most of the points being scored on the opponent's mistakes with experience telling in the end. Manchanda, playing a naggingly consistent game, recovered from a 1-2 deficit to down the erratic Colah, who seemed to run out of steam in the final game. Keeping himself very cool and calm under pressure, Manchanda played a very crafty game, testing Colah's patience with a number of slow deep lobs and mixing them with some superb low drops. 

The Senapati Madon semi-final was definitely a see-saw tussle. Senapati seemed to be sitting pretty with a 9-6, 7-0 lead but in a matter of minutes, Madon had leveled the scores. An even battle continued and so it reached the decider. Madon looked well set to reach the final when he was leading 7-2, but Senapati totally changed his game into a slow and steady one and reeled off seven points in one service hand to qualify for the final for the third year in succession. Contrastingly, the other semifinal was a one horse race Nayak totally outclassing Manchanda inside 35 minutes. Much too quick for his opponent, Nayar often left Manchanda stranded with some deceptive boast and drop shots. Such was his dominance that Nayar could afford to relax in the first and, third games, making Manchanda run to all possible corners of the court.

Much was expected of the Nayar Senapati final, but it turned out to be a big let down. Nayar, despite conceding 10 years to his 21-year-old opponent, was clearly in a class of his own and never allowed Senapati to settle down. Senapati conceded a lot of negative points, and though he did vary the pace of his game, it was to no avail. Nayar's lightning reflexes and amazing stroke-play often had the packed audience on its feet.

Squash is not too popular among women in India there being only 16 entries in this event, end of these three players were head and shoulders above the rest Nandini Kumari, Bhuwaneshwari Kumari and Rupa Senapati. Bhuwaneshwari Kumari downed Rupa 3-1 in the semi-finals and then trounced Nandini in the final, thus reversing the result of last year's final. Nandini seemed to he psychologically affected by a nasty hit she suffered below her eye, during her semifinals tie. Young Bhuwaneshwari was much quicker and a harder hitter of the ball than all her opponents and fully deserved her victory.

Shyamlal Verma (CME), Poona, extended his hold on the professionals title, running it for the eleventh time. In a one sided final, he thrashed Panchum Singh. Over the years Shyamlal has slowed down considerably, but for a man in his mid-forties he plays a tremendous game. His deceptive drops and amazing wrist work were a treat to watch.

Judging from this tournament, squash is certainly a growing sport in India. However, owing to lack of coaching and facilities, the standard of the game has remained stagnant over the years. Three of the semi-finalists Manchanda, Nayar and Madon  are in their early thirties, which is rather old for such a fast game. What we need are some public courts and some spectator courts, so that young players get a chance to play as well as watch the game.

Murray Day, president of the International Squash Rackets Federation, was among the distinguished guests present at the finals. This was a fitting finale, probably the first ever to have been sponsored. Mercantile Bank, the sponsors, have certainly given the game a big boost, something which the game desperately needs!

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