Squash player Anahat Singh, the youngest member of India’s Commonwealth Games 2022 contingent, got off to an impressive start on Friday with a dominant victory in her women’s singles first round match.
The 14-year-old defeated Jada Ross of St Vincent and the Grenadines 11-5, 11-2, 11-0 in the round of 64. The opponent wasn’t the toughest there could be, but even so, for a 14-year-old making her debut at one of the biggest stages there is in the world for her sport, Anahat remained unfazed by the situation and went about her business with a great deal of professionalism.
Anahat made it to the squad on the back of her impressive run at the under-15 level, including wins at the Asian Junior Squash and German Open this year.
“It’s really exciting and so much fun because I’m getting to play a lot of senior players and it’s my first senior tournament,” she said in the mixed zone after her win on Friday in Birmingham.
“It’s my first senior tournament so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I got more confident as the match went on. I wasn’t really confident, but I had nothing to lose, so I wasn’t really nervous either. A lot of my family are here and they were all cheering really loudly.”
Coach Chris Walker said: “She has great problem-solving skills. She is very smart, has good court sense, and great racquet work. At 14, you just want to help that talent grow. The short period of time I’ve been working with her has just been tremendous fun. It’s so exciting for the future. She is a lovely girl.
“She has got a great attitude to all this attention. She’s just enjoying the ride. She won the third game 11-0, there was never any chance of her letting up. She is very present when she is playing and so mature for such a young age,” he added according to PTI.
“A lot of people have said it’s good that we’re bringing in a youngster, but she’s here on merit. She is that good. I’m looking forward to seeing her go further from here,” Cyrus Poncha, Secretary General at The Squash Rackets Federation of India said.
Anahat will next play Emily Whitlock, the world No 19, in round of 32 in what will be a significantly tougher challenge. But at this stage, it is all about the experience for the youngster and she can play with the freedom of having nothing to lose. “I am just going to try my best,” she said.
Update: She lost in the singles round of 32 against Whitlock in four games, but not before she pushed the Welsh player to dig deep.
With quote inputs from PTI and IOA