Hosts India are hopeful of medal success in next month’s inaugural WSF Under-21 World Cup, the new biennial event launched by the World Squash Federation which will take place in Chennai from 1-5 February.
After early rounds at the city’s Indian Squash Academy, the final stages of the mixed team event will be held on an all-glass show court erected at the Express Avenue Mall, the largest shopping complex in southern India.
India have been named as fourth seeds, behind favourites Egypt, second seeds England and No3 seeds France.
Home hopes are led by an Indian squad featuring Dipika Pallikal, the 20-year-old women’s world No15 from Chennai and the highest-ranked player in the event. Pallikal, who also represented her country in last year’s (senior) WSF World Cup, has made a major impact on the WSA World Tour already this year, reaching last week’s final of the Tournament of Champions in New York – as the No7 seed!
Making up the squad are 17-year-old Asian Junior U19 champion Anaka Alankamony, and Ravi Dixit, Ramit Tandonand Karan Malik.
“We are the fourth seeds – but we are confident of winning a medal,” said Indian National Coach Cyrus Poncha.
“We are delighted to initiate the inaugural Under 21 World Cup here in Chennai after re-launching the WSF World Cup last year. We’ve had great support from the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) in addition to the WSF and the Federation’s President Mr Ramachandran.
“Indian Squash is now firmly entrenched in the world map of squash, through administrators, tournament organisation and performance in the junior tournaments, as well as the senior PSA and WSA circuits,” Poncha continued.
“The Indian public, who are cricket crazy, are becoming more aware of this exciting sport.
“Furthermore, Dipika’s progress augurs well for Indian Squash. Her foundation was laid at the Squash Academy.
“The Express Avenue Shopping Mall, the busiest and largest in South India, provides an ideal location for the event – increasing awareness of the sport. They have supported this event fully, including last year’s event.
“Sponsors are coming forward in droves and this is good for the development of Squash in India,” concluded Poncha.
Early action will take place in two pools of four teams each, followed by semi-finals on Saturday 4 February and the final on the Sunday.
Pool line-ups (with seedings in brackets):
Pool A: (1) Egypt, (4) India, (5) Australia, (8) Germany
Pool B: (2) England, (3) France, (6) Hong Kong, (7) Malaysia