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Squash soars with HCL: Why the Chennai World Cup was special for Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa

The Squash World Cup 2023 in Chennai showcased India's emergence as a potent force in the sport.

Squash soars with HCL: Why the Chennai World Cup was special for Saurav Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa

Team India receiving their bronze medals (Image via HCL)


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 19 Jun 2023 10:54 AM GMT

Chennai: The Squash World Cup returned here after 12 years as the Chennai Express Avenue Mall hosted the showpiece event from June 13 to 17.

Egypt won the title while the Indian team - comprising seasoned veterans Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa alongside emerging stars Tanvi Khanna and Abhay Singh - reached the semifinals after topping their group.

In recent years, the growth of Indian squash has been truly impressive, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI), the government and HCL through an effective public-private partnership. Hosting the World Cup in Chennai was a significant step in this journey. The tournament was broadcast on Jio Cinema, further amplifying its reach.

Team India at the Squash World Cup 2023(Image via HCL)

With dominating victories over Hong Kong, South Africa, and Japan, India were outright winners of Pool B, securing a place in the semifinals. However, India's campaign came to a close with a 0-3 defeat to Malaysia.

For Joshna Chinappa, it was an especially significant moment as she played in front of her home crowd, which included her family and friends.

"Playing in Chennai comes with a lot of added pressure as well because everyone is here to support us, and of course, they want us to win. It's just about handling it and enjoying the moment," she told The Bridge as she entered the court for the semifinal.

She even credited the crowd support for one of her wins.

"Honestly, my match against Japan yesterday, I won, and that was really thanks to the crowd. It's been such a wonderful last five days, and so many people came out to support us. A lot of my friends were here, and the crowd was so warm and welcoming. They screamed for every point. I felt so happy seeing that," she said.

Joshna Chinnappa vs Malaysia(Image via Chenthil Mohan)

Saurav Ghosal, visibly disappointed after the semifinal defeat expressed his thoughts on the team's performance.

"I think we just couldn't produce what we wanted to. But credit to Malaysia, they did really well. It was great to play in Chennai in our own country after a long time. But now it's quite sad that we haven't made it to the finals," he said.

Saurav, a Commonwealth Games medalist, had suffered an injury during the match against Japan, and had his knee covered in bandages when he took the court for the semi-final.

"I don't think if I was not playing in India today, I would not have stepped onto the court. So I think that should be testament enough that playing for India at home is a very, very special feeling, and I try to give my best every time I go on the court anyway. It gives you a slight extra lift in your feet. So thank you to everyone who turned up today, and sorry," he said.

Saurav Ghosal vs Darren (Image via Chenthil Mohan)

Saurav also said that the Chennai World Cup is a good example of the changing landscape of the game.

"I don't think when we started playing almost 20 years back, something like this ever happened in India. The number of people coming to watch and the number of kids playing sports these days has grown manifold. That's not to say that we've reached where we need to be; there's still a long way to go. We're on an upward trajectory, but we still have to keep working hard on all facets," he said.

HCL, the strategic partner for the event, expressed delight in playing a pivotal role in the development of Indian squash over the past few years and committed to furthering these initiatives.

Rajat Chandolia, the Head of Brand at HCL, stated: "The World Cup is the pinnacle of squash in the world. All the teams played exceptionally well. Unfortunately, the Indian team couldn't reach the finals, which was disappointing. However, we had a great turnout of spectators today, and the event was a huge success. The fact that it was held in a central facility like a mall made it accessible to everyone. Additionally, the live streaming on Jio Cinema was executed flawlessly. Overall, we were able to provide a fantastic experience for players, coaches, spectators, and everyone involved."

Rajat Chandolia, AVP and Head, Marketing & Branding, HCL group

HCL's commitment to the game extends beyond hosting marquee events such as the World Cup. The company aims to focus on grassroots development and nurturing young talent.

"This year, we are initiating a grassroots programme, a vision we conceived about a year ago. It aims to make squash more visible and accessible to school children in the age group of 6 to 12," Rajat explained. There is a plan to launch the grassroots programme within the next 2-3 months, paving the way for the future growth of Indian squash.

Rajat further elaborated on why HCL chose to support squash, emphasizing their strategic approach to sports sponsorship.

"Our strategy is not to focus on mainstream or team sports. Instead, we aim to support under-funded sports that align with our values. Additionally, we saw immense potential in Indian squash. We have numerous players ranked in the top 50 or top 100 worldwide, and there is a wealth of upcoming talented players as well. The Squash Rackets Federation of India has shown great passion in providing support to all these players too," he said.

Through their strategic partnership with the Squash Rackets Federation of India and their focus on grassroots initiatives, HCL will undoubtedly contribute to further success and development of squash in India, creating a platform for both established and aspiring players to thrive.

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