Dhruv Bopana: Smashing success in squash

Going forward, Dhruv will most likely be seen in action next at the Asian Junior Individual Championships in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Dhruv Bopana
Dhruv Bopana(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Chennai is the home of chess, and it also boasts a rich history in cricket. Now, the city is on its way to becoming the squash capital, too, with the presence of the Indian Squash Academy (ISA). This state-of-the-art training centre has the infrastructure to conduct international and national tournaments, and several players from ISA have won laurels. To enhance the squash ecosystem in India, global conglomerate HCL along with the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI), launched the second leg of the HCL Squash Tour and Southern Slam in Chennai. The city hosted both tournaments at the Indian Squash Academy. About 254 junior players competed in the Southern Slam with keen interest. The one who impressed the most was 12-year-old Dhruv Bopana of Sishya School, Adyar.

Former national coach and secretary general of the Squash Rackets Federation of India Cyrus Poncha believes that the Summer Slam was a good opportunity for youngsters to display their talent and make a mark. “The Southern Slam & PSA Tournament in Chennai is a fantastic opportunity for our young players to showcase their skills and compete against top international talent. This event is a crucial step in our mission to elevate Indian squash to new heights and foster a culture of excellence. We are committed to providing the best platforms for our athletes to grow and succeed,” said Cyrus.

Dhruv made the best use of the tournament. He won the U-13 event by defeating Shayan Samtani in the final. This class 8 student started playing squash in June 2022 and has made rapid strides in two years. Having enjoyed the tough tournament and terming the feeling of the win as “something that can’t be described” Dhruv said, “It was a competitive field and the other players in the category were playing well, so it required me to step up my game, be consistent to win the crown. No match was easy, but I felt the semifinals were a bit more challenging. Fareed Andrabi, who I’ve played four times in the past month, was the tough opponent. My preparation for the tournament was good, which helped me. During the build-up to the tournament, I had trained hard in the mornings and evenings, stretched well before all my matches, and went in with the right mindset.”

Interestingly, Dhruv used to play badminton before turning into a squash player. A chance to play squash for the first time at Madras Cricket Club and having a brother, Mihir, a U-15 player ranked among the top 12 in the country, too, played a part in choosing squash. “What I like about squash is that it’s a challenge to improve as conditions are not the same constantly. This made me take up squash. Plus, the first tournament I won in 2023, the 3rd All India Squash Open in Guwahati told me that my heart was in squash. However, winning the Southern Slam this year was perhaps my best foot forward,” Dhruv said.

Initially coached by Satish, Deepak Mishra now coaches Dhruv and trains regularly at ISA. This ambitious kid insists that he wants to have strong performances at Asian and National games this year and finish as India’s No.1 in U-13. Helping him achieve his dream are his school, parents, and the ISA. “My parents are very supportive and encouraging; they help me play as many tournaments as possible even if I have school. My school principal Mrs Omana Thomas and teachers are highly supportive too and motivate me to excel in academics. Deepak and Cyrus sir at ISA help me focus on my overall performance and game,” he said.

Going forward, Dhruv will most likely be seen in action next at the Asian Junior Individual Championships in Islamabad, Pakistan.

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