CHENNAI: Indian squash is making headlines for the right reasons. Following the success of juniors in top competitions, the country is becoming a favourite destination for world events. Hosting the World Junior Squash Championship next year will be icing on the cake on the organisational front.
The 18th edition of the event will be held in Chennai at the Indian Squash Academy (ISA). The Men's & Women's World Junior Individual Championships will take place from July 18-23, followed by the biennial Men's World Junior Team Championship from July 24-29. The World Squash Federation (WSF) announced it through a press release last week.
“This is the perfect time for hosting such an event, as our boys are doing great. The ISA hosted this event in 2002 and 2009. The facilities and infrastructure is world class and that's why we have been given another chance to host the prestigious event. We hope we can win as many medals as possible,” national coach Cyrus Poncha told Express.
Pakistan were crowned champions in the previous edition of this competition that was held in Poland in 2016, while India had finished sixth. But a lot has changed since. Indian boys scripted a grand victory by beating Malaysia in the final of the recent Asian Junior Team Championship in Hong Kong.
The coach says the world meet will be a new challenge. “Though it is being held next year, we hope our boys and girls carry the momentum and bring us more honours. But one year is a long gap and anything can happen.”
Chennai will host a squash gala before that as well. For the Asian individual championships coming up from April 26-30, ISA will not be the venue. Organisers had been planning to stage it at Express Avenue mall to attract crowds and it seems it is going to become a reality.
“The first stage is clear. Mall authorities have given us the green light to host the event. We are still looking for sponsors for the event. Once that is taken care of, we can announce it officially. This will be a great opportunity for the players as well. To play in front of a huge home crowd at such a buzzing and happening place in the city will be new and a great motivation for them,” Cyrus said. This won't be the first time that Express Avenue will have hosted an international level meet. Back in 2011, when the city welcomed most of the stars for the WSF World Cup, the place played host for the knockout stages of the competition.