After five months of forced break, Joshna seeks access to squash court

SRFI secretary Cyrus Poncha said chances of resumption of training at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai before September were also very low.

Joshna Chinappa is keen to get back on court at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR (File Photo)

India’s highest-ranked squash player Joshna Chinappa is hoping to get access to courts sooner than later after almost five months away from the game even though the sport’s national body has ruled out any activity till September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) secretary and former national coach Cyrus Poncha had told PTI that he does not see any tournament being conducted before September.

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According to him, chances of resumption of training at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai were also very low.

Joshna is, however, keen to get back to the courts. “It is not easy, not being able to get back on court. It is soon going to be five months since I have not been on a court. I personally love training at the academy (ISA). Just hope that as top athletes, we do get to train before September.

“It is important because we are preparing for something really big eventually (2022 CWG and Asian Games). It is important to be able to stay connected to the game. Hope we are allowed to play in a controlled atmosphere, an hour a day or something like that,” said Joshna, who broke back into the world’s top-10 earlier this month.

The coronavirus case count continues to rise rapidly in the country but a lot of top athletes have resumed training under strict safety protocols set by the Sports Authority of India. Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai have been badly hit by the virus and all three are major squash centres.

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Following the central government guidelines on resumption of training, the Tamil Nadu government too allowed the reopening of stadiums and sports complexes without spectators. However, most sporting facilities in Chennai, including the ISA, remain shut.

Joshna, who entered the world’s top 10 for the first time in 2016, is back in the group following the unexpected retirement of World No. 1 Raneem El Welily last month.

“It is my hardwork and a bit of luck that has got me here but I want to prove it on court, beating the top players consistently,” said the 33-year-old, who has been on a strict fitness regime since the began lockdown in March.