India’s first professional squash series has been sanctioned by the sport’s global governing bodies, PSA and WSA. It begins the 2nd of October, 2014, at the Jaipur Club. Following the Jaipur tournament, many players will move onto Mumbai, where the next two tournaments of the circuit take place at Juhu Ville Parle Gymkhana (9-12 Oct) and NSCI (16-19 Oct). The circuit will wrap up at the ISA in Chennai (26-29 Oct).
Each circuit event will have a 16-man and 16-woman draw, comprising 11 direct entrants, a wild card and four qualifiers, which would be held prior to the main draw over two days.
While all the four men’s PSA events will carry a prize money of USD 10,000 with the winner gaining 175 points each, the first three women’s WSA events will be USD 5,000 and the finals USD 10,000 with the winner gaining 350 points each.
Squash players from across the world are taking part in the series, Denmark’s Kristian Frost Olesen (PSA Rank #65), England’s Angus Gillams (#206), Finland’s Matias Tuomi (#130) and Pakistan’s Mohammed Asim Khan (#242). India’s pro athletes Dipika Pallikal (#12), Saurav Ghosal (#17), and Joshna Chinappa (#21) will take part after bringing home silverware from the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
On the men’s side, India’s own Mahesh Mangaonkar – World No. 56 – is a firm favourite while Austria’s Birgit Coufal, women’s World No. 70, is favored for the women’s title. Both, however, will face tough competition from the field, especially as the home crowd cheers for top Indian favorites, Gold medalists Harinder Pal Sandhu (#87) and Kush Kumar (#266).
Quotes on the Challenger Circuit
Fresh from his team medal at the Asian Games, Mahesh was quick to admit the importance of this circuit said, “While the high of winning an Asian Games medal was exhilarating. These tournaments are extremely beneficial to my ranking and ultimately my career, which is my priority and so I need to refocus back in the game and ensure that I put in my best efforts in the game.”
“JSW has always been pro sport and pro squash and this new circuit is a defining moment in Indian squash from the player perspective. We are excited to be an integral part of the process.”
– Raj Arora, CEO of Ivy Sports, circuit organiser
“We at JSW are incredibly passionate about the sport and have through our own ventures with the Jindal Squash Academy have worked at popularizing the sport at all levels. However, with the Squash Challenger Circuit kicking off in Jaipur, we are confident that Indian talent and the Indian Squash fan base will be exposed to an international level of the sport that has been absent in the nation.”
– Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of JSW Sport
“I am delighted that we finally have a squash circuit in India. This is truly a massive boost for Indian squash and would like to thank JSW for supporting our tour. I look forward to be a part of many top events in India in the future with their continued support.”
– Joshna Chinappa, Gold Medalist, Commonwealth Games
“Given the strong performances of the Indian contingent in recent tournaments, it is evident that Indian squash is producing fine talent. It is now time for us to ensure that this talent is nurtured and developed, given the right facilities and exposure to International tournaments to fine tune their skills, the Squash Challenger Circuit is exactly what the sport needs right now. This is the ideal platform for these youngsters to gain valuable ranking points and improve their global rankings.”
– Ritwik Bhattacharya, five-time national champion, holder of nine PSA titles
“Exposure to tournaments is one of the best ways to raise the playing standards of Indian squash player. In this regard, the Indian Pro Circuit is an excellent platform for our budding professionals. Kudos to the organisers.”
– Major S. Maniam, Director of Development and Coaching for the World Squash Federation for SRFi and ASF