‘People will be more keen to play than ever once normal life returns’
By GEOFF BEW – Squash Mad Correspondent
The PSA World Tour is unlikely to resume this season due to the coronavirus, says one of the world’s top players.
Saurav Ghosal believes it would be optimistic to think tournaments could be up and running again by September and expects the rest of the 2019-20 calendar to be written-off.
More than 22,000 people in 198 countries have already died as a result of the virus, which has ground airlines and forced many nations into lockdown.
Saurav, who is ranked 13 in the world, said: “The PSA has not sent us any definitive dates and to be fair, I don’t think they can.
“No one in the world knows when we will be over this pandemic. I think we all have to take it one month at a time and see where that leaves us.
“The PSA has a lot of things they need to look into and handle with different stakeholders before arriving at any decision.
“I’m confident they will take decisions sensibly, prioritising the health of all involved.”
The India No.1, who is back with family in Kolkata, says his country has been “severely” hit by the virus.
“The government has announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days,” he said. “Only essential services will be allowed to function.
“As a country, we are in war mode and every single person of our 1.3 billion population will be expected to abide by the directives from the government.
“Such a massive lockdown is unprecedented in the history of mankind, but I feel it is the need of the hour if we want to even have a chance of fighting the coronavirus.”
Saurav beat Tom Richards and Simon Rosner to reach the quarter-finals at this month’s St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic – the final men’s tournament before the shutdown – but lost a dramatic tiebreaker against eventual winner Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Now he says he hopes the squash community can pull together to save clubs from going bust.
“It is a very tough time for all business and squash clubs are no exception,” he told SquashMad.
“The members of clubs must step up and contribute to the cause, so that the shortfall can be made up. We all have to do our bit.
“If we want to return to our normal lives in the future, these clubs must still be in business.”
Saurav also hopes the crisis will not impact the growth of squash in India, which saw 15 new tournaments taking place last year and 729 more male and female players registering with the Squash Rackets Federation of India.
“I don’t think people will stop playing because of this disruption,” he said. “If anything, they will be itching to play even more once normal life resumes.
“I want to look at the bright side and say, we will produce even better players in the future!”
Saurav says he’s planning to use the unscheduled break to spend more time with his family. “I don’t remember the last time I stayed in one city for such a long time, let alone be locked down inside one house!,” he said.
“I’m going to take this time to spend more time with my grandmother and dad, watch TV shows on Netflix and Prime, so that I can catch up with my wife!
“Also do some cooking and baking and some exercise to stay in shape for when we can start playing again.”
Pictures by Steve Line courtesy of PSA