Bombay Gymkhana Squash: Somani, Singh Harbour India Hopes

Bombay Gymkhana Squash: Somani, Singh Harbour India Hopes

The two talented young lads are in the knockout stages of the Maharashtra State Open

Haridev PushparajUpdated: Monday, September 04, 2023, 04:27 PM IST
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Arjun Somani and Ekambir Singh are two young and promising squash players who are making waves on the Mumbai circuit and harbouring dreams of representing India at the highest level.

Somani and Singh were slugging it out at the Bombay Gymkhana courts in their pre-quarters, post which they sat down for a chat with the Free Press Journal.

The duo shared their excitement about the ongoing Maharashtra State Open event and their prospects.

"It's been a great tournament so far and I just played my pre-quarters today and entered the quarterfinals which is later in the evening. The season has been good so far. I played few tournaments, the Matunga Gymkhana Open and we had a five-star tournament in Kolkata as well where I came fourth,'' he added.

The 16-year-old Somani, who turns 17 in a month, has a National ranking of 11th and is improving with every single match he has been playing.

Somani spoke about the way ahead for him in the tournament.

"In the quarters, I'll be playing Ayush Verma who I had played in the Matunga tournament as well where I had beaten him. In the semis, I'll be playing Vedant Cheda hopefully if I go through,'' said the 11th standard student of Bombay International School, Babulnath.

Somani is aiming to don the national colours and represent India and has a plan in mind.

"I'm hoping that next year I can push for the Asian championships and play college squash later on and Inter-University level squash as well,'' he added.

"I'm mostly planning to play the US Open in December.''

Somani has been training at Bombay Gymkhana and has had two coaches until now.

"My first coach was Avinash Bhavnani for four years and now it's Dhruv Dhawan since a month,'' he added.

The talented lad's mother is an interior designer and father is a trader.

Somani's peer and on-court rival Ekambir Singh is another fine, young squash player in the making.

With a cool, unassuming temperament and a measured approach to communication, Ekambir probably possesses a maturity beyond his years.

The young Mumbaikar stated he didn't have the best of openings to the season but is getting back into form.

"I won my pre-quarters today and my quarters in the evening. The season has been ok, I didn't have a good start but coming back now and working hard."

His focus is on representing India and playing the British Open in December.

"Representing India and playing the British Open in December is my focus now. When I was 13, I represented India in Asian Championships. I lost in the quarterfinals,'' added Ekambir, who is ranked 12th in India.

The 11th grade student of PPSI, Juhu trains at Borivali's Club Aquaria and is a ward of Dhruv Dhawan as well.

Both Somani and Singh vouch for the aspects of shot selection and fitness and understanding the game.

"Focusing on shot selection, when to hit the correct shot and working on my fitness. That's because at the end of the day, the fittest player lasts the longest on the court. So, fitness and court craft basically,'' Somani stated.

With regard to the squash scene in India, both the youngsters were optimistic about things looking up.

"So, obviously squash is rising now. Being an indoor sport, everyone takes to it easily and it has been growing in India. With the chances of getting to a good college, there are a lot of kids who are taking up squash,'' Somani added.

"It's made a lot of progress, become more popular. I feel it will go up. I intend to get into squash professionally. I do see myself representing India in the long-run,'' he added.

Family support has been generous and consistent as far as both of them are concerned and they seconded that.

"I've had a very supportive family. They have been by my side. Helping me financially, emotionally and I'm very grateful,'' Ekambir revealed.

His father is head of marine operations at L&T and mom is a home-maker.

"My family is very supportive and they are open to try new things. They are ready to even miss work and they come along with me for events. Sometimes, even my grandparents help me by coming along with me for events,'' Somani explained his side of things.

Both of them are also balancing their academics and squash fairly well and getting good support from their schools.

"Balancing is tough. There are only 24 hours in a day. 10 goes in sleeping because you need time to rest and recovery.

School teachers are always helpful,'' Somani added.

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