Patience pays off for Harinder Pal Sandhu Down Under
By Swaroop Swaminathan | Express News Service | Published: 17th July 2017 08:31 AM |
CHENNAI: LONG-term injuries leave a lasting effect on sportspersons. They don’t know what shape they will come back as regrowing tissues and repairing body parts isn’t for the faint of heart. While strong-willed athletes have beaten the curse of injuries, quite a few, after learning the prognosis, tend to mope around.
Harinder Pal Sandhu very nearly did that. Appointments with physios dominated his 2016 to treat two separate injuries — hamstring tear and a back injury. Not to mention little niggles that would crop up whenever he was in the middle of a good run. The injuries combined to keep him out for a good five months from March last year.
During his rehabilitation at the Indian Squash Academy (ISA), he had two options. Wondering why he had been dealt a bad hand now or analysing his game and trying to improve it. The then 27-year-old decided against moping around.
He, instead, took to watching videos of the top 30 men’s players in the game to see how they play the game. While watching the creme de la creme, he realised a chink in his own armour.
The rest, as they say, is history. After some fine wins in the back end of 2016, he has been on fire this year. Four consecutive titles and in the middle of a 19-match winning streak, life has never been better for the Punjab-born lad.
Harinder agrees. “The one thing that markedly changed in my game when I was sitting out due to injury is I have learnt to become patient,” he told Express after winning the Victorian Open in Melbourne on Sunday.
“I used to have this urge to finish off points quickly, I wouldn’t want to play long rallies. After watching those videos, I realised I had to change that aspect of my game. Watching the best take their time even if the ball was there to be hit taught me a valuable lesson.”
It’s been valuable all right. He is more solid and isn’t fazed as easily. In the final against local favourite and top seed, Rex Hedrick, he lost the first game.
But he became more determined and polished off the next three 11-3, 11-4, 11-7 to finish the job in an impressive manner. The manner of his wins – even comeback ones — in 2017 has followed that same narrative. Patience.
“These days, I play the percentages before going for the money shot,” he says. “I have learned to become more patient... that way the break helped me immensely.”
That trait could continue to serve him (he is pairing up with Mahesh Mangaonkar) well, starting with the upcoming World Doubles in Manchester next month.