S.R. Suryanarayan

CHENNAI: For her achievements in the game World junior championship runner-up and former Asian junior champion Joshna Chinappa has the credentials to be considered the symbol of Indian squash today.

Instead, this champion player, currently ranked 61 in the women's professional circuit, is being sidelined by the Squash Rackets Federation of India.

A case in point is next month's Qatar Airways Challenge 2006 in Hyderabad, a $79,500 WISPA event, the third richest tournament in the world. The draw for this tournament has been released and even if as per ranking, Joshna cannot be an automatic entrant to the main draw, SRFI, as the host, could have extended the benefit of a `wild card' entry to her. But Joshna's name finds place alongside a bunch of current Indian juniors/sub-juniors in the qualifying phase draw.

This major event has attracted the very best women from all over the world; from top-ranked Vanessa Atkinson, World champion Nicol David and World junior champion Omneya Abdel Kawy to players in the top 30.

The SRFI could have considered her status in the country and chosen to provide Joshna the experience of mingling with the best women players in the world, rather than requiring her to qualify.

It is done in tennis and several other sports. Besides, in the past, the Federation had provided this benefit of `international exposure' to players such as former national champion Mekhala Subedar, for instance.

The SRFI Secretary General, Mr. N. Ramachandran preferred to say `no comment' on the matter, but the fact remains that whatever be the Federation's stand (read problems with Joshna) this kind of treatment of a proven talent, of a player who still remains the best bet for India in international squash, will do no good to the image of the sport in the country.

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