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Vol. XXXIV No. 6, July 1-15, 2024

An amazing journey in squash for Srikanth Seshadri

-- by S.R. Suryanarayan

As fairy tales go this has to be one of the finest in Indian squash. This dates back to the turn of this millenium when the sport of squash in India got a next generation play facility in the form of the Indian Squash Academy (now called Indian squash and triathlon academy) in Chennai. Srikanth Seshadri, a club-level squash player then having heard of the new world class facility was keen to shift his 10-year-old son from tennis to squash. That must have been around 2005 but an actual visit to the facility virtually floored him and what is more, he developed a desire to be part of the working group there.

Noted Malaysian coach, Maj S. Maniam was incharge then with Cyrus Poncha, the then national coach (now Secretary General, Squash Rackets Federation of India) was also there.Then there was Rajiv Reddy, who went on to become a world referee. On top of it all was the belief that Mr. N. Ramachandran, currently the Patron of SRFI (he was the Secretary-General then) had in him. As it happened, they encouraged him, tried him in coaching activities but decided he would be better off in refereeing considering his nature, his stern attitude, inquisitiveness and fine verbal communication skills in English.

Before he knew what, Seshadri had taken to refereeing like a fish to water. By 2007 he had begun to officiate international matches. Four years later, he had progressed to world referee status. More than a decade later now, Seshadri has risen to a level where no Indian has! The native from Kangayam, a town in Tirupur district became the first Asian, let alone an Indian, to officiate a final of a world championship. Seshadri had this honour when he refereed the women’s final in the recently held championship in Cairo.

Talk of players rising from the Academy and there were atleast three who had done the institution and the country proud and here was a non-professional squash player, as he put it, who could make it to the top in Refereeing. “I am a pure- bred Referee from the ISA”, as he proudly put it.

Amazing has been the journey of Seshadri and what stood out was it was never planned. It just came his way and now after having officiated in the National championship, Asian games, Commonwealth Games and World championship he still wonders how it all came about. Just destiny! And for all his dedicated work it was not as though he never earned recognition. In 2018 he was awarded the Chief Minister’s trophy for the best Referee across all sports. Besides, he is now the Director of Referees in SRFI, Deputy Director in the Asian Squash Federation and one of the five members on the WSF Rules Commission. What used to be a frequent hop between Kangayam, his native town and Chennai once for this Engineer turned businessman, Seshadri now regularly goes globe-trotting wherever squash calls!

So how does he see the future? The articulate official was clear, “nothing particular. I never dreamt I would come this far. So I am leaving to squash to decide where more I should go!” In another four years time USA would be ready to host the next Olympics and squash is making its debut there. Will Seshadri have the distinction to be there? The man is clear “if it is willed I will be there but I am not nursing any dream. Let things happen its own way,” quipped Seshadri in all humility.

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