Asian Individual Squash Championship winners Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa heaped praise on fellow teammate Harry Sandhu, who turned temporary coach after getting injured to lead the duo to the titles. National coach Cyrus Poncha didn’t travel with the contingent to Kuala Lumpur for the event.
India’s squash players haven’t had a head coach for over a year now although it hasn’t stopped them from winning at the international level. Ahead their latest triumph, Ghosal and Chinappa took coaching advice from Harry Sandhu, who is an active player and Ghosal’s best friend.
Sandhu was seen present as the ‘official’ coach travelling with the squad as the 10th ranked Ghosal defeated reigning Asian Games champion Leo Au in straight games to become the first male squash player from India to win the title.
“He is my best friend and knows my game inside out. I had spoken to David Palmer (his personal coach and former world number one) before the final and Sandhu knew what he had discussed. He knows what I can do on the court and it surely helped me,” Ghosal said, reported PTI.
“It was a good coaching stint for him but it is something he can explore after retiring from professional squash. Hoping he is back on the court soon,” he added.
Chinappa came to the tournament as the defending champion and she successfully kept the trophy after beating long-time rival Annie Au for the first time since September 2017. She was also full praise for Sandhu and physio Dimple.
“Honestly, it was amazing to have Harry (Sandhu) as a coach. He is an active player who could not take part due to his injury but was really professional as a coach. He, in fact, started preparing with me one week in advance and being my mixed doubles partner, knows my game really well,” she said.
India squash players relying on each other’s advice in big tournaments hasn’t been anything new as they were seen doing the same during the Asian Games last year, which had created an embarrassing situation for travelling support staff Poncha and Bhuvneshwari Kumari.
While Ghosal and Chinappa confirmed that they didn’t see Poncha anywhere around them in the tournament Indian Squash Federation president Debendranath Sarangi claimed.
“National coach Poncha was very much with the team.”
The Indian team hasn’t had a foreign coach since March 2018 with Poncha stating to PTI last month that SRFI had planned to hire foreign coaches on an event basis. And while a foreign expert was expected to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Sarangi revealed he was still awaiting sports ministry’s approval on the appointment.
“There are elections going on in the country and the government is busy. We hope to get the sanction in the next couple of weeks and when the next event comes, there will be a foreign coach travelling with the squad,” said Sarangi.
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