Tanvi Khanna became the top-ranked Indian (69, current rank - 73) in the PSA World rankings in September. She had won the Costa North Coast Open Coffs Harbour, and finished runner-up in the Jansher Khan Canberra Open and the Volkswagen Bega Open to move up to 69 from 96 in the space of three weeks.
On Thursday, though, she cut a sorry figure. The 27-year-old, with an apparent right knee injury, conceded the women’s final to the 15-year-old Anahat Singh at the 79th National Squash Championshipsat the Indian Squash and Triathlon Academy (ISTA) here. It was unfortunate as she had won the first game 11-9. Tanvi said she doesn’t know the nature of her injury.
Only on Wednesday, she spoke about finding a foreign training base.
“I now need to start travelling abroad (for training). Maybe, find a base, so I can play with other (foreign) players. And, of course, the coaches abroad are also amazing. But I need to get some more funding for that. It’s really expensive. And I’m looking into it,” she said after her semifinal win over Rathika Suthanthira Seelan.
The primary reason is quite interesting. “I feel like my coach in India (Dhruv Dhawan) is amazing. He’s brought me up to this level. His knowledge is just amazing. But I do need sparring partners. That’s what I don’t get. So, I’m only playing with boys. And when I play with girls, the game is very different. In Delhi, I have a bunch of U-19 boys (to train with). And even this guy, who just lost in the semis of the Pro-coach event, Atul Yadav. But the thing is, their game is more fitness-oriented. So, it’s different; they hit back (to the backcourt) more, and the women’s game is more attacking.”
Tanvi felt that her confidence had shot up since she’d played a reasonable number of tournaments abroad this season.
“I’ve not played so many tournaments abroad. So, I was lacking that exposure. But this year, I’ve played five or six (tournaments) abroad and I feel like it’s helped me massively with my confidence to get my ranking up and to play with other (foreign) players.”
She won the women’s team bronze at the Hangzhou Asian Games but feels that the team could have done better.
“We realised that the women’s team could have easily finished with either the gold or the silver. All of us, in our matches, we were just so close to beating Malaysia and Hong Kong. So, I feel like in the next games, we’ll be more prepared. We have more depth in our team now. A lot of girls are picking up and coming into the tour. It’s very different from four years ago, when there were only four players playing. Now we have like six to seven girls who are actually good enough. So, hopefully, if they all get funding to go abroad and play tournaments, they’ll get their PSA ranking up. I’ve also not played so many tournaments abroad.
“It’ll really help in the next Asian Games if the federation and the government is able to highlight five or six players who should be kind of breaking into the top-50 in the World (and sponsor them). Only if they do that, will they be able to get a gold at the Asian Games.”
Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) honorary life president and patron N. Ramachandran has also spoken about the need for the Olympic medal prospects to train in Europe. He has also said that the federation is seeking government help for it.
Tanvi signed off by saying that her immediate goal is to make it to the top-40 in the PSA World rankings. One hopes she recovers soon and sets out to achieve it.
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