Names: Tanaya Parekh and Tagyaa Parekh
School: Modern High School for Girls
Claim to fame: While Tanaya, a Class VII student, ranked 11 in the all-India under 13 girl’s category for squash, sister Tagyaa, a Class IV student, ranked eighth in the all-India under 11 girl’s category.
SQUASH SISTERS: Tagyaa (left) and Tanaya Parekh
Starting point: Tanaya and her sister Tagyaa started squash out of necessity as they had to choose a sport that would keep them from getting tanned, as per their mother’s wish, and yet keep them fit, as their father wanted. They were introduced to the game two years ago in Bangalore where they had gone for a summer vacation. “We met squash player John Smith who introduced us to the sport. He told our parents to let us play squash and that is how our journey began,” recalled Tanaya.
The journey: In the two years since they started, Tanaya has played two national championships — at Indore and Chennai — while Tagyaa has played one. The fast-forward from being beginners to competing in the nationals was, of course, because of their talent and the hours of practice they put in, and also because, as Tanaya said, girls from Calcutta stand a good chance — “since there aren’t that many girls who are into squash here, there is no competition as such.”
Tagyaa is being coached by Dalit Tripathi and Tanaya by Goutam Das.
“Calcutta has very good training facilities. But playing in Chennai is like playing tennis in Wimbledon. They have seven glass courts. The best players like Dipika Pallikal and Saurav Ghosal were trained there. It is after all the hub of squash,” added Tanaya.
The balancing act: Time management is a big challenge but over time they have worked out a balance. “We practice squash five days a week in the evening and go swimming every morning,” said Tanaya. “We get up at five in the morning to study. We discuss and make our timetable. I think I am a good sister because I listen to Tanaya more than I listen to my mom,” said Tagyaa.
“Our school has been very co-operative in granting us leave. There have been many times when I have studied on flight because we know if our studies get hampered everything else will take a backseat,” said Tanaya.
Other interests: Between the two they cover piano, swimming, wind instruments, karate and painting. But when asked to choose their favourite, they voted for squash.
Sister talk: The siblings fight often but when it comes to taking advice Tagyaa looks up to Tanaya. “I play matches with Tagyaa and I show her a few shots. Though we fight, when it comes to squash she listens to me,” said Tanaya. “That is because she is not a bad teacher,” chipped in Tagyaa.
Que sera sera: While Tanaya wants to be a fashion designer, Tagyaa wants to be a squash player. “Schools have rowing teams, dance teams, basketball teams, swimming teams, soccer teams but nothing for squash, not even a tournament. I wish more would people start playing this sport,” said Tanaya.
Picture: Sayantan Ghosh