Velavan wins U-19 title in British Junior Open

India had 3 players finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in the boys U-19 category. Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup with 15-13, 11-2, 10-12, 11-7 win over unseeded Abhay Singh in a close final at the British Junior Open on Friday.

Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup with 15-13, 11-2, 10-12, 11-7 win over compatriot and unseeded Abhay Singh in a close final.   -  SRFI Media

It was an Indian Gold, Silver and Bronze at the prestigious British Junior Open on Friday. A typical dream finish as the Indians swept way the U-19 honours with a fabulous show, something that has given Indian squash a shot in the arm.

An elated national coach Cyrus Poncha put it, “this is the biggest thing that has happened to Indian Squash at the junior level. The British Open is the ‘Wimbledon’ of Squash and in this 2017 edition.

India had 3 players finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in the boys U-19 category. It was in the 1970s that Anil Nair won this event first for India and in more recent times our current National Champion. Saurav Ghosal did it in 2004,”.

Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup (becoming only the 3rd Indian male) with 15-13, 11-2, 10-12, 11-7 win over compatriot and unseeded Abhay Singh in a close final, bringing home added cheer was the bronze medal effort of Adhitya Raghavan.

These three have been training partners for years, all coming out of the same stable - the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai. Only years ago the story of these players was so different. At the Junior National of 2011 for instance – Velavan had finished 7th, Abhay did not qualify for the main draw in the U-15 category while Adhitya was 5th in the Boys under 13.

“A lesson then for upcoming players that working hard with dedication, discipline and devotion do pay dividends,” said Poncha. Poncha who has been associated with the ISA since its inception at the turn of the millenium, said, considering the enormity of this achievement it was pertinent to mention that all this would not have been possible without the Academy, which was the brain-child of SRFI patron N.Ramachandran.

“Ramachandran’s effort, dedication and the money spent over the past two decades have paved way for this level of achievement,” he said.

The national coach agreed that for all this, there was is no taking away the players' hard work right through their careers. What made it doubly sweet for Velavan was that he had won the Asian Junior title in September last (becoming only the 2nd Indian male to do so).

While extolling the role of the various coaches and others who had assisted in making the Academy a top draw institution, Poncha also highlighted the arrival of Egyptian coach Achraf El Karargui.

“His way of training, laying stress on the mental and physical aspects was special. Then again his presence in the Indian corner against the Egyptians in the British junior Open proved beneficial,” he said.