These pretty ladies pack more than a punch. Their supple wrists and strong arms echo the 'thwack' of the ball. They are young, determined, and raring to go. And they are India's best hopes of winning a medal in squash at the Commonwealth Games. Meet, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal.
Know the starlets
2005 British Junior Open
2005 Asian Junior
2004 Indian National Senior
2008 British Junior Open U17
2006 Asian Junior Open U15
2006 German Junior Open U15
Joshna is presently training in Chennai under national coach, Cyrus Poncha, and Major S Maniam, consultant at the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI). Currently ranked 31st in the world, the 23-year-old shared her itinerary before the Games commence on October 3.
"I will play a couple of tours in Egypt (Heliopsis Open from September 11-14 and the World Open from September 15-21)," said Joshna. After that, she will be back in England to train with coach, Malcolm Willstrop.
Joshna's day starts early, at the Indian Squash Academy, where she puts in a couple of hours of practice. "I train for around five-six hours everyday. I do weight training three times a week," she says, the first beneficiary of the Mittal Champions Trust.
The 18-year-old Dipika is currently in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Squash Open. She is managed by sponsors Punj Lloyd and trains in Chennai as often as possible. "I travel a lot. I'm hardly at home and train in Egypt for around eight months under coach Amir Wagih," she says.
Dipika confesses there is nothing special planned for the Games. "I have been putting in a lot of training right now, around four-five hours everyday. There's an on-court session in the morning, followed by fitness sessions in the gym. Weight training depends on the number of tournaments," she says.
The squash team will assemble in the Capital on September 23. Dipika feels all the Commonwealth nations are strong opponents. "We'll have the home advantage and can hopefully benefit from it," she says.
Joshna echoes the thought and adds, "We have a better chance of winning doubles than singles. Dipika and I understand each other, we know our game plan and stick to it."