Joshna Chinappa was made to work hard in the women's final against Sunayna Kuruvilla before she could get her hands on a 17th Senior National Championship title at the Amanora Mall in Pune on Sunday.
However, the landmark title (bettering Bhuvaneshwari Kumari’s earlier mark of 16 national titles) for the world number 13, is an indication of the distance her opponents need to cover before catching up to her.
The champion emphasised that exposure to the PSA circuit is a necessity for fellow Indians to know where they stand.
“The upcoming players have so much potential, hopefully they are nurtured the right way and with a team to help them break through. The younger Indians are playing tournaments, it would be better if they could play more events. There are doing okay, in terms of training they have their own team (support system). We need to play on the professional tour a lot more, because only there you can fail as much as you can, assess where you need to improve.”
Joshna added: “The (PSA) tour is such a brutal place, everyone is so good and breaking into the top 50 is tough. You travel and play very on our own, no coach or physio around, so it is that much harder.”
Title number 17 will be followed by a short break - a trip to Coorg to unwind and catch up with father Anjan Chinappa, a former squash player who now has a coffee plantation. “It feels nice to end a long season with a win at the Nationals here. After taking two weeks off, the summer training will start at England in July. My next tournament is the China Open at Shanghai in September, then the PSA circuit continues.”
Responding to a query about Indian squash, she replied: “Indian players are doing really well. Sourav (Ghosal) broke into the men’s top 10, Mahesh (Mangaonkar) has been winning tournaments (recently crowned the Sekisui Open men’s winner at Switzerland, his eighth PSA title). Sourav and me won individual golds at the Asian Championships 2019 (Kuala Lumpur). Right now it is a sort of golden period for India, hopefully the juniors can take it forward.”
Joshna won her first national title when she was 14. The 32-year-old remains the highest ranked Indian woman on the world circuit, with a career best rankings of 10th in 2016.
Mangaonkar, 25, retained the men’s singles title at Pune, for the second time in his career.