After three hours of both participating in and supervising the rigorous evening practice session, Rushil Handa, the squash team captain finally had some free time. ‘Squash’, you ask? It’s quite the unknown sport, as compared to global behemoths like football and cricket.
How does one even start playing squash? Rushil answered this general query with a smile. Luckily, he stayed in an apartment which had a court, and quite conveniently, he had a friend who had the equipment required. They simply began observing the five or six adults who came in the late evenings, and he soon picked up the sport.
The squash team is known for being rather small. As of last year, they had a total of six players, two first years, two second years, and two third years. This year, however, was radically different, says Rushil. The team took in five new players, one first year, a couple of second years, and two third years. Rushil got very expressive when asked about the philosophy of the team as a whole. We dedicate ourselves to practice, he began. Squash isn’t a game that can be simply learnt intuitively. One has to put in hours of gruelling practice, and do drill after drill until the techniques of backhand, forehand, and correct ball placement finally become second nature.
Overexertion is also frowned upon in the team’s practice sessions. Squash is a physically taxing game to begin with, so, an hour’s worth of drills leaves even the fittest in the team completely exhausted.
The squash team also goes for tournaments in other colleges, especially the IITs. Last year, Rushil mentioned, the team had gone to IIT Roorkee and IIT Jodhpur. As the topic migrated to the upcoming tournament, Rushil seemed very excited about the team’s prospects this time around. Generally, the strongest opposition for the BITSian teams in BOSM comes from the colleges with sports quota, and squash is no exception. The versatile Venkateshwara and SRCC, colleges under the Delhi University, pose very tough competition every year.
St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, too, was a strong team, added Rushil. The other teams that come from lesser known colleges only appear intermittently in BOSM. When asked about whether there were any specific ‘star’ players, so to speak, in the opposition, Rushil shook his head. The colleges usually come in with a new squad every time, so there was no fixed star player as such.
The squash team has an unresolved rivalry this BOSM, it appears. LNIPE, the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, had narrowly beaten our team last year, and the ruffled veterans have sworn to pay them back, no matter what.
It does look like the entire team shares the captain’s hopes of coming away with the coveted gold this time. Of course, the entire student body of BITS Pilani will be cheering them on.
We wish them the best of luck for BOSM 2015!