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I can play anybody now: India squash player Joshna Chinappa

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 - 11:17pm IST | Agency: dna

India squash player Joshna Chinappa– who recently lifted her maiden WSA World Tour title with Winnipeg Open trophy beating Heba El Torky from Egypt – tells Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya about her journey in Canada
  •  DAT-GIRL.jpg Joshna Chinappa dna Research & Archives

You have won on foreign soil before. How different was Winnipeg in terms of competition?
There were players ranked higher than me in the tournament. And I have never played in Canada before, the conditions were very tough. It was minus 22 degrees. Though the court has artificial heating but it is a cold country and I had never experienced that. I made sure I kept warm at home and don't go out much. I had to bundle up as much as I could and train outside.

The ice storm even killed people..
It was dangerous. I missed both my flights because of the storm and had to wait at the airport for over 10 hours. Then I waited for five hours for the next one, even that did not take off and finally I managed to get there late.

Who were the best players there?
There was intense competition as the girls had been winning a lot of matches since past few weeks. They were in the groove. Nicolette Fernandes (World No.19), Joey Chan (World No.23) were some of the best ones around.

How does it feel to lift a World squash title considering the sport is still not that promoted in India?
The sport got a lot more popular in the last few years if not to the extent of tennis or cricket. As far as I am concerned, I go for these tournaments to do well and win. The recognition is nice if I get it but even if that doesn't happen, I am fine with that. But people have been supportive, some Press people called me after the victory and it felt good.

How long did you train for this tournament?
I trained the whole of December till the middle of January, through Christmas and New Year when players usually take a break. I had good momentum, felt fit and wanted to build on that.

Was the training any different from what you normally do?
It was a lot on the field, lot of sprint and shuttle running. Lot of groundwork. I concentrated on variations of sprint. I spent hours in the gym too. I followed my trainer Rajamani and worked out consistently which made the difference in Canada.

Dipika won the same tournament last year. Do the opponents across the world take the Indian players as threat?
They (including the top 10 players) don't take us lightly at all because they know if we are at our peak, what can happen. Dipika created that platform last year.

You literally won the final in dying minutes? What gave you that adrenaline rush?
Yeah I was 10-7 down. I honestly don't know what happened, it was such a blur that moment. I hung in there, she made a couple of errors which helped me get back to the game. When I levelled it 10-10, I thought of not delaying it any further and was more aggressive to win the remaining two points.

Your thoughts on Heba El Torky..the youngster gave you a tough time..
She did but you know the funny part? I played her last week prior to the final and I won 3-0 pretty comfortably. Probably when I went into the final, I put a little bit of pressure on myself to play well. And she came into the game with a lot of confidence as she had defeated three top seeds in the tournament which stepped her game up.

Didn't that 3-0 win make you overconfident?
Not really because before that win, I lost to her a couple of times in the last two years. I knew what she is capable of. I have always had close games with her.

Tell us about the Egyptians, what makes them the champion players they are?
I have been based in Egypt before for training. They have 30-40 squash clubs in Cairo alone and each club has about 100 kids playing. If you have that many kids playing each other in local tournaments or league matches, you are going to get better eventually. They also have a lot of idols to look upto like Amr Shabana and Omneya Abdel Kawy. That encourages the juniors to come up and aspire to be like them. They are also very fearless. When they get on court, they don't care who they are playing, be it a top seed or any other player. They are also very skilful with shots.

You'd once said that you don't relish playing against Egyptians..
I'd said that long time back but now I change my opinion (laughs). More than anything, I am pretty fit today and can hang on with anybody on court. I am a better player than before. At present, I can play anybody.

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