Meet Velavan Senthilkumar – a 19-year-old Indian squash player. Velavan is ranked World No. 1 in U-19 category. He recently won the prestigious 2017 British Junior Open and the 2017 Asian Junior Team championship making the country proud. So far, his journey has been propelled by his prodigy.
Velavan converted to a senior few months back and according to him the transition was mighty difficult. He had never played a top 250 player before and all of a sudden he was playing the World Number 43 from Egypt. There was a sure imbalance in strength and a total jump in level. He realized that he had a lot, lot more to work on to get there. The biggest revelation was that to sustain his attacking style of play, he needs to have more power in his drives and smashes, otherwise it’s just not going to work. His experience as a junior has framed his gameplay, speed and skills surely, but there remains a lot to be done to reach the heights achieved by his senior counterparts.
Velavan is currently in a tricky situation. He needs to quickly cement his place in the senior’s category. Else he will soon be lost in the midst of mediocrity as has happened to many young talents from India. The child prodigies were awesome at the junior level but owing to lack of proper guidance and financial support, could not make a mark in the senior’s category.
Velavan needs to participate in several PSA (Professional Squash Association) tournaments. National Coach, Cyrus Poncha, says – “Velavan is super talented. Moving on to the senior category, he needs to be among the professionals and play a lot of PSA tournaments.”. A young player like Velavan should participate in a minimum of 10-12 PSA tournaments in a year. Participating in each of them comes with registration, travel, equipment and logistics cost. Mostly players rely on their personal funds, sponsorships and sporadic support to cover their costs. At such a tender age, Velavan is struggling to find enough funds to take part in many PSA tournaments.
Let us not kill a young talent at such a young age. Let’s help him transition from a junior World No. 1 to a Senior’s World no. 1 and make the country proud. If we will support Velavan now, he is sure to become a Squash World Champion in the coming years.