Kush Kumar’s three-year training at the Indian Squash Academy, Chennai seem to have paid off. The 16-year-old from U.P. bagged the Indian Junior crown last week and is all set for his maiden PSA tournament

Professional coaching, a structured programme and a splendid atmosphere backed by excellent facilities easily make the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai one of the best training centres in the country. It’s not surprising then that most youngsters, keen on excelling in the sport, enrol here. The latest talent to join the ISA is Kush Kumar. The 16-year-old has been making waves with his wonderful performance this year. After clinching the Asian u-17 individual title in Iran, Kush played a key role that enabled the Indian boys to bag a historic bronze in the World junior championship in Doha.

A native of Dhampur (Uttar Pradesh), Kush came to Chennai in 2009 to better his squash prospects. He says the three years he has spent at the academy have been exciting.

“I am enjoying my stay,” says Kush holding the trophy he was awarded after he won the Indian Junior Open crown in the u-19 section held last week in the city. “I have a lot of friends here. I play with some very good players. There is no better place than the ISA to improve your game.”

Training at DSM Complex, Dhampur, since the age of six, Kush was advised by his coach and 14-time professional (for coaches) squash champion Shyam Lal Verma to try his luck in Chennai. “The facilities were good at DSM Complex but there weren’t many capable players to spar with,” says Kush explaining why he shifted to the southern State.

In June, this year, Kush scripted the finest victory of his nascent career by winning the Asian u-17 crown. But the journey to the throne wasn’t easy. The week before the Asian individual championship, he wasn’t in great form, losing in the pre-quarterfinal of the Milo Junior Open. “My spirits were low, as I was the top seed in that tournament. But my coaches Maniam and Cyrus Poncha encouraged me and told me I could do it. They gave me a lot of tips,” recollects Kush.

The World junior championship saw Kush win the first match against England in the third place contest that helped India clinch the bronze. In the recently concluded Indian Junior Open, Kush showed a glimpse of his potential. Against Rishi Tandon in the final, Kush impressed with his delicate drops and excellent forecourt play.

At home in Chennai

How does he find Chennai? “I really love it, except for the hot weather,” smiles Kush, a Standard X student of Seventh Day Adventist Higher Secondary School. “I enjoy idlis and dosas. I don’t get bored at all as I swim and hit the gym when not playing. I also play badminton with my friends sometimes at Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram.”

Kush is now gearing up for his maiden PSA (Senior International) event to be held in Kobe, Japan, from September 27. “I am looking forward to it and my aim is to reach the main draw,” he says.

Consultant coach of the Indian team Maj. S. Maniam feels Kush is a raw talent waiting to explode. “He is hard working and has a good perspective of the game. He can adapt to a varied pace. But under pressure, he tends to lose accuracy. However, he has a very bright future,” he says.