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‘Enjoy yourself through the journey’

At world No. 10, Dipika Pallikal is India’s highest ranked squash player ever.

education Updated: Jan 01, 2013 13:51 IST
Gauri Kohli

Born into a family of distinguished sports persons, I was always interested in sports and played tennis for two years after which I took to squash at the young age of nine.


I chanced upon squash when I enrolled in a summer camp some years ago while accompanying my friend Praneeta Rebala. I won my first junior national tournament the same year I started playing. A talent for squash and passion for the sport motivated me to move to Egypt as a teenager, where I trained under renowned coach Amir Wagi. With his training, I made huge strides in the junior circuit, winning nine open titles and many other national tournaments, all in four years.

I had to make a lot of sacrifices such as staying away from family and learning to do things by myself. It was a learning experience for me and I knew that I won’t live a normal teenager’s life if I have to succeed. After spending a few years in Egypt, I moved to the United Kingdom for a year and then to Melbourne.

First high
Winning the British Open as a junior in 2008 was a big moment. I won the bronze at the 13th World Junior Women’s Championship in 2009. I then became a familiar face on the European squash circuit and eventually the World No. 1 in the under-19 category. I have won five tournaments at the senior level and have managed to break into the world top ten. Reaching the World Open quarter finals last year was another big achievement.

My idols
I look up to my coach Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who is a five-time world champion, because she has been there and done that. She travels with me most of the time and is very close to me. She is one of the legends of the game and I am proud of the fact that she is my coach.

My idea of success
It’s important to have faith in yourself. If you are a sportsperson, you should be willing to make a few sacrifices, train hard and focus on staying fit.

Dealing with failure
You must take everything in the right way. If I lose a game, I analyse it well and try to learn from my mistakes. You must maintain a balance between your wins and losses and not be overwhelmed by them.

Advice to youngsters
Enjoy yourself through the journey you undertake. If you are happy and enjoy what you do, results will surely come.

Factfile
Currently World No. 10, Dipika is the highest ranked Indian squash player ever. In her distinguished junior career, she has won the German Open, Dutch Open, French Open, Australian Open, and Scottish Open on the European Junior Squash Circuit and was ranked World No. 1 in the under-17 category. She created history in 2012 by being part of the first Indian women’s team to win the Asian Team Squash Championships. She is also the first Indian ever to reach the last four stage at the prestigious Australian Squash Open.

If you are a sportsperson, you should be willing to make a few sacrifices, train hard and focus on staying fit —Dipika Pallikal