Most of them may still not be well known in the squash world. Exceptions are a few like India's Dipika Pallikal or Egypt's Marwan El Shorbagy and Nour El Tayeb, who are already remarkable achievers. But by and large the players from the eight countries here for the SDAT-WSF U-21 World Cup, starting on Wednesday, see the big event as a stepping stone to greater visibility in the sport.

With the teams here, all is set for the inaugural edition of what is expected to be a biennial mixed team event on the WSF calendar.

The initial action will be at the Indian Squash Academy courts and the latter stages (semifinal and final) at the Express Avenue Mall, where a special ASB all-glass court with distinctive technological features is being set up in a bid to woo the general public to the sport of squash.

IOC member Hein Verbruggen, President, Sports Accord, is expected to witness the innovative features.

Several of the players who have come have done so with fair amount of success on the senior international circuit.

Egypt is the top seed

Consider Egypt for instance, the firm favourite with two World junior champions in its rank — Marwan El Shorbagy and Nour El Tayeb.

Egypt is the top seed followed by England, France and host India as the fourth seed.

Shorbagy, the World No.41 from Alexandria, featured in the quarterfinals of the recent Tournament of Champions in New York, becoming the first qualifier to go that far in ten years in an elite PSA World Series event.

As for team-mate Sherbini, she was in the semifinal of the women's section as unseeded.

But the one who overtook them was 20-year-old Dipika, India's National champion. Currently World No. 15 — the highest-ranked player in the World Cup — recorded her best ever success on the women's World Tour in New York, getting past two higher-seeded opponents to reach the final as the seventh seed.

Australia has in Sarah Cardwell, the 20-year-old daughter of legendary former World No.1 Vicki Cardwell, who had recently won her maiden Tour title at the Australia Day Challenge, while from England there are much bigger promises.

Charles Sharpes, who spearheads the England attack, notched up his fourth Tour title recently.

He is also the former British U-17 and U-19 National champion. The England coach believes that but for this World Cup, players like Charles would have taken longer to represent the country. That then is the biggest incentive.

Apart from Dipika, the Indian team has Asian U-19 champion Anaka Alankamony, Ravi Dixit, Ramit Tandon and Karan Malik.

While Egypt and England look strong, it will be tough for the host.

Clubbed along with Egypt, Australia and Germany in Pool A, India has a big task on hand to finish among the top two to progress further.

Observers believe, seeing the draw, that each match would be tough, something that augurs well for the competitive element of this inaugural meet.

Pools (with seedings in brackets):

Pool A: (1) Egypt, (4) India, (5) Australia, (8) Germany;

Pool B: (2) England, (3) France, (6) Hong Kong, (7) Malaysia.


No sweat for top seed Egypt and host IndiaFebruary 2, 2012