Sport

Serving in style

Top squash players battle it out for the World Cup on the portable glass court at Express Avenue Mall

The Colosseum has come to Chennai. With squash players battling it out for the JSW-SDAT-WSF mixed team World Cup in a portable glass court installed in the centre of the atrium at the Express Avenue Mall, and spectators gazing on the action from the globular corridors on the higher floors that encircle the domed atrium, the shopping complex evokes images of gladiatorial wars in ancient Rome.

Rings of shoppers leaning on the glass parapet walls on the corridors and soaking in the experience, are a silent testimony to the success of the endeavour. A few lingering doubts are dispelled by Mathieu Castagnet of France, who has played in international squash tournaments enriched by quirky and arresting settings. “The circular aspect of the construction facilitates easy viewing.This is as good a place as you can get for a squash tournament,” says Mathieu, after crafting an elegant victory against his Malaysian opponent. The French player calls this tournament an elephantine footstep towards popularising the sport in the city and compares the Express Avenue Mall to New York's Grand Central Station for its capacity to attract multitudes to squash.

Most shoppers and staff of showrooms at the mall, who watch the duels in the glass box, are dreadfully ignorant of squash's basic rules. Says T.S. Hariprasad, assistant manager, Pepe Jeans, “It is an engrossing spectacle, but I do not understand much of what I see. I definitely feel inclined to learn more about the sport. After work, I will get on the Internet and do just that.”

Parminder Singh, a merchant navy officer out shopping, plans to take a step further. “In a week, when I will go to Kolkata, my temporary home, I will try to play the game.”

M. Arul, venue marketing manager, Club Mahindra, who has undergone training at the Maruti Sports Hostel in Coimbatore and played basketball for Tamil Nadu, says this is the first time he is watching

a squash match live. He admits he has no plans to try squash, but has a few tips to offer. “Organising such big tournaments in colleges can win many youngsters to squash. The sport lacks larger-than-life

players. I came to know of the sport only after watching Dipika Pallikal on television. Squash needs more such players who will be seen in social settings.”

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 7:20:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/Serving-in-style/article12079626.ece

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