Squash in time of cricket - Racket Club hosts world's top players in five-day tourney

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  • Published 13.04.10

Play — and watch — a different sport in the time of IPL is the dare from one of the oldest squash clubs in the world hosting a star-studded tourney.

Calcutta Racket Club (born in 1793) and The Telegraph have come together to host the five-day PSA Indian Challenger 7 with six players from the world’s top 20 to lure a growing brood of young squash enthusiasts.

“We know that our dates — April 13 to 17 — are in conflict with the IPL but they are given by the Professional Squash Association. Also, come IPL or any other sport, we know that squash lovers will come and watch the games,” says Manoj Mohanka, president of the club next to the Birla Planetarium on Chowringhee.

The tourney playlist includes Adrian Grant (England), Cameron Pilley (Australia), Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt) and Mohd Azlan Iskandar and Ong Beng Hee (Malaysia). The Indian challenge is led by Ritwik Bhattacharya and Calcutta boy Saurav Ghosal, ranked 28th in the world. “If fans have big names to cheer for, then the response is usually huge. If cricket didn’t have a Sachin or a Dhoni, how many would watch it? A sport is associated with people and that’s why others like watching a sport,” feels Saurav.

The surge of squash can be seen beyond the Racket Club. At Saturday Club, the three squash courts have been renovated owing to the growing demand.

Club president Utpal Singh Roy says: “Our squash courts are booked round-the-clock so we decided to make them glass-backed to facilitate viewing. The club has 35-40 regular players, from all age groups, with fitness being the mantra.”

Fitness coach Preetom Mukherjee Roy explains why. “Squash keeps one very fit. It’s one of the most high-end cardio exercises as it completely works out the lower and upper body areas. It also trains the reflexes being a fast sport.”

Fast and furious is what one can expect at the Calcutta Racket Club this week, from gameball to die.