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Didn’t know I was playing Nationals until I arrived here: Diya Moolani, dark horse of squash c’ship in Pune

18-year-old Diya Moolani, daughter of revered coach Deepak Moolani, did not know until a few days back that she was competing in the 76th Senior National Squash Championship.

pune Updated: Jun 13, 2019 16:44 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Nationals,Diya Moolani,dark horse
Diya Moolani.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Studying at St George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States, 18-year-old Diya Moolani, daughter of revered coach Deepak Moolani, did not know until a few days back that she was competing in the 76th Senior National Squash Championship. She now finds herself on the cusp of the main draw of the women’s singles and is already one of the dark horses going into the competition.

After her second qualifying match victory against city girl Aelina Shah, Moolani shared her thoughts on the tournament with Pranav Shahaney and how participating in it could help her in cementing a glowing squash career for herself.

You’ve come all the way from Rhode Island to compete in the Nationals. What brought you here?

It was a no-brainer to compete in this tournament given how passionate my dad is about the sport. In fact, I didn’t even know that I was playing, but when I came here he told me I was, so here I am. But I’m glad I went along as it’s been a really good experience so far. I’m hoping for the best in the coming days now.

That would mean you did not have enough time to train. How are you coping with it given that most of these players have been preparing for months?

I haven’t played a lot of squash of late. I’ve been competing in a lot of track and field events by throwing the discus and the javelin. But I’m happy to break into training for squash and this is a very good place to start. However, I’ve been playing mainly over the weekends there as track and field takes up a lot of time. The facilities there are pretty good as my school itself has eight courts.

Having played in European tournaments, where do you think the level of the sport is at in India?

I played tournaments in Cologne and the Netherlands last year. I didn’t do too good as I only managed to reach the third round, but it was a great experience. The level in India, in comparison to the European nations is quite good. It’s a growing sport and since I’ve come back it’s good to see that this I-Squash facility has been built. I’ve seen very young kids playing the sport too, so I definitely think it’s growing in India.

What are the other benefits that the sport brings with it?

Coaches have already started reaching out and I’ve started applying to universities. I went to the United States on a squash scholarship so it really helps in terms of academics as well. In fact, I moved to Bhojwani school to focus on my squash as the level of the sport is pretty high in the United States so I needed more time to train.

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 16:42 IST