Participating in his first European event, this 14-year-old came home triumphant.Close on the heels of the Doha Asiad, a strong 18-member team represented India in the U 13, U15 and U17 Boys and Girls category at the Scottish and British Junior Squash Open which concluded recently.Fourteen-year-old Ravi Dixit, participating in his first European event in the Boys U 15 category claimed his maiden European title - Scottish Junior Open in Edinburgh at the Heriot-Watt University Squash Centre. Currently undergoing training at ICL Squash Academy, Chennai, under Major Maniam and Cyrus Poncha, he said it was a tough battle. "It was tough. I trained really hard and my coaches were an enormous source of encouragement. I guess that's why I won," smiles the shy 14-year-old squash achiever whose list of `wins' is long and illustrious. Hailing from Dhampur, situated about 166 km from New Delhi, Ravi was discovered and encouraged on by the sugar mill's squash enthusiast owner, Vijay Goel who bought him to Delhi and later admitted him to the ICL Squash Academy, Chennai. "His playing technique is brilliant. What he has at his age is his speed on court," says coach, Cyrus Poncha.Winning internationally doesn't come easy. A training schedule from 8.30 a.m to 11.30 a.m. and again from 3.30 to 7.00 p.m. may not sound punishing. But run around a hard court with a racquet in your hand and `tired' will take on a different hue altogether. Besides training also means staying away from home and supportive siblings.
Homework and trainingA private student now at DPS Delhi, regular school was fun but combining studies with training and tournaments is always tough. A student of Std. X, Ravi still has to do homework and study for exams. "The days I am too tired I just eat and sleep. When I get time after training, I study", he says. He travels with his schoolbooks and with exams coming up soon, he has to concentrate, on court and off. Friends as always are a big help. Currently training with him are Naresh and Paramjeet, who have come with him from Delhi and Harinder Paul from Chandigarh. Helping each other adjust to Chennai, waking up on time and getting ready for practice, they have become fast friends, and are perfect company for movies and walks on the beach. There is little time for hobbies. Malaysia was his first international match. These can be fun as some time can be squeezed in for looking around the country. While he doesn't have a favourite player, he admires Jonathan Power and Peter Nicol. Ravi remembers his first game at the National Finals. Nerves weren't an issue as then it was more fun than anything else. But today he says, " As I scale greater heights, the pressure is increasing. Now I can't really afford to lose. " His next international is the Asian junior at Hong Kong. His focus is rock steady. While academics are important and he promises to do his best, he would like to scale greater heights with squash.