Velavan wins gold in British Junior Squash

India completed a 1-2-3 in the British Junior Open Squash Championship at Sheffield on Friday night. Chennai’s Velavan Senthilkumar won the gold, Abhay Singh the silver and Adhitya Raghavan bagged the bronze for a dream finish for India in the Under-19 section.
Velavan wins gold  in British Junior Squash
Velavan Senthilkumar with the British Open Junior Squash Championship trophy in Sheffield on Friday

Chennai

An elated national coach Cyrus Poncha said 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 under 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,” he said. 
Velavan Senthilkumar won the coveted Drysdale Cup becoming only the third Indian male) to do so with a 15-13, 11-2, 10-12, 11-7 win over compatriot and unseeded Abhay Singh in a close final. Then Adhitya Raghavan won the thirdplace playoff. 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 seventh, Abhay did not qualify for the main draw in the under-15 category while Adhitya was fifth 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 15 years ago said, considering the enormity of this achievement it was pertinent to mention that all this would not have been possible without the academy. 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 second 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.

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