Srikanth Seshadri: Squash’s hardman on the hot seat

When Srikanth K. Seshadri is around in the referee’s chair, Indian players, even the most volatile of them, are at their best behaviour.

“It was the world men’s team championship in Paderborn in 2011. Being my first WSF event, I was bit nervous. And it was a big stage. Fortunately it went off well,” said Srikanth.   -  M. Vedhan

When Srikanth K. Seshadri is around in the referee’s chair, Indian players, even the most volatile of them, are at their best behaviour. That’s because the 52-year-old, one of India’s very few World Squash Federation referees, knows his job and has gained a reputation for being a no-nonsense official.

A WSF referee for the last six years — he is only one among the two from India (the other is Yogendra Singh) — Srikanth has officiated many tournaments around the globe.

In fact, he officiated the interesting Dipika Pallikal and Annie Au semifinal women's match of the Asian individual squash championship at the Express Avenue Mall, here, where there were quite a few ‘lets’ and ‘strokes’. Both argued with the referee on certain decisions, but Srikanth stood his ground and the players realised it quite early that the man means business.

Srikanth’s refereeing career commenced in 2005 at the National level -- and his was a quick rise -- followed by the Asian tournaments before getting the WSF refereeing status in 2011.

“It was the world men’s team championship in Paderborn in 2011. Being my first WSF event, I was bit nervous. And it was a big stage. Fortunately it went off well,” said Srikanth, whose biggest achievement was being a referee in the World Series final in Dubai last year.

Having seen the growth of the sport over the last decade or so, Srikanth admits the sport is difficult to understand and enjoy for a layman. But, he said, for one to understand the sport, he/she has to watch it more often.

Being a subjective sport, with interruptions such as ‘let’, ‘no let’ and ‘stroke’ marring the flow of the game, Srikanth countered by saying that the number of interruptions has reduced in the last couple of years. “The ‘lets’ have decreased a lot over a period of three years,” he said.

'I love being a judge'

After having officiated in the men’s final between Saurav Ghosal and Max Lee on Sunday, Srikanth will take a break for personal reasons and then be off to Hong Kong Open in November this year. “It is a packed 2018 year with the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games,” he said.

Does he have any ambitions? “Not much,” he said. “But I love being a judge and take control of the match. Being in the hot seat gives me lot of pleasure,” said the 52-year-old.