India National Racquetball Team
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India National Racquetball Team
India
AssociationRacquetball Association of India
IRF codeIND India
World Championships
Best result
  • Men: Quarter finals (2002)

The Indian racquetball national team has competed at World events from the early 2000s. However the first Indian team under the governance of a federation based in India was formed in 2010. Please see current Team's profile who will represent in 2018 World Racquetball Championship in San Jose, Costa Rica. The team consists of Alok Mehta, Thirumurugan Thiyagarajan (Thiru), Yash Doshi and Sumeet Kamat. In 2016, Team India traveled to play world championships at Cali, Colombia. The four delegate team consists of; Alok Mehta (captain and coach), Rajiv Varadarajan, Sriram Ravindran and Thirumurugan Thiyagarajan (Thiru). At the 2014 World Championships in Burlington, Canada, India was represented by Rajiv Varadarajan, Sumeet Kamat, Pratap Ballalasamudra and captain Alok Mehta.The 2012 team consisting of Venkat Vejju, Nirup Shetty, Ashish Mehta and captain Sathwik Rai represented India at the 2012 World Championships in Santo Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The 2012 team was coached part-time by Dave Schwent. The team and sport is governed by the Racquetball Association of India (RAI) currently based in Hyderabad, India.[1]

Origin

The precursor to the Racquetball Association of India (RAI) was the Amateur Racquetball Federation of India (ARFI) which was established in 2009 and was based in Mumbai. The ARFI oversaw 12 state racquetball associations, but in 2012 the ARFI was taken over by RAI. Prior to 2009, Indian racquetball was primarily governed by a non resident Indian federation based in California, USA which is no longer active as of 2008.

The Indian team represented the country in the 15th World Racquetball Championship in Korea. On the occasion of India making its debut[2] at the international event, the then president of the International Racquetball Federation (IRF). Keith Calkins, commented, "The IRF is extremely happy to welcome Team India to the 15th World Championships in Seoul, Korea. There is no question we need to talk about how to expand the sport in India. The need for new court facilities and new players will be a key part of our discussions. We are sure that it will be exciting to see Racquetball develop in India".

Governing body

Racquetball Association of India (RAI) is the governing body for the sport of racquetball in India. RAI is recognized by the International Racquetball Federation[3] and the Asian Racquetball Federation.[4]

The team

Eligibility

The current Indian National Team was selected based on the guidelines laid down by RAI. Players aspiring to represent India officially at international events conducted by the IRF[3] are required to establish valid proof of Indian citizenship. Usually a currently valid Indian passport is necessary. Any special cases and exceptions will have to be handled by the RAI in conjunction with the IRF.

Current (2018) players' profiles

Alok Mehta has been playing racquetball since 1990 and has participated and won several local, state, regional, national and world senior championships. He qualified for team India in 2018, 2016 and 2014. He also won the India Open in 2015. He is currently ranked #167 in the world.

Thirumurugan Thiyagarajan (Thiru) has been playing racquetball since 2010 and has won several local, state and regional level competitions. He qualified for the team in 2016 and 2018. He is currently ranked #310 in the world.

Yash Doshi has been playing racquetball since 2012 and has won several local, state and regional competitions. He qualified for Team India in 2018. He is currently ranked #509 in the world.

Sumeet Kamat has been playing racquetball since 2010 and has won several local, state and regional competitions. He qualified for the team in 2014 and 2018. He is currently ranked #545 in the world.

Coach

The 2012 Indian racquetball team is coached on a part-time basis by Dave Schwent.[5] He is an avid baseball and basketball player from his high school and college days and played second base on his High School State Championship team at Hazelwood High School and is now also an expert golf instructor. Dave's growing passion for racquetball led him to being crowned National Champion in 1994. In 1997 he finished 2nd in the World Senior Championships. Winner of numerous state and regional titles, Dave Schwent also won the Open doubles title at the Olympic Festival in St. Louis, his hometown. Though he is currently one of the top players in Missouri, his true talents lie in coaching

Indian team at the world championships

The IRF conducts Racquetball World Championships every two years. The Championships follow the Olympic Format. The main round is called the Gold Division and every player starts off in that division. Players drop down to the Blue, Red and White division based on their win/loss record. The previous Championships were held in Korea in 2010 and the 2012 IRF World Racquetball Championships were held in Santa Domingo from August 4 to 11, 2012.

2018

Team India will be competing in world championship in Costa Rica in Aug 2018. World Championships are held every two years and India won its first gold medal in 2016 in Cali, Colombia. Alok Mehta, Thirumurugan Thyagarajan, Sumeet Kamat and Yash Doshi will represent Team India in the world championship in San Jose, Costa Rica, in August 2018.

2016

There were two qualifier held in 2016, one in Hyderabad India and the other one in Chicago USA. Top two players qualified were selected to play in the world championships. The four delegate team consists of; Alok Mehta, Rajiv Varadarajan, Sriram Ravindran and Thirumurugan Thiyagarajan (Thiru).

In the World Championship held in Cali, Colombia from July 14-24, 2016, India finished 13th overall in men's doubles bagging the first ever gold medal in a doubles event. Doubles team consisted of Alok Mehta and Thiru. The India finished 15th overall combined points in doubles and singles category. Rajiv and Sriram won matches against Indonesia and Puerto Rico.

2014

Selected on the basis of the qualifiers held in Dallas, Texas, Team India, composed of Raaj Mohan, Alok Mehta, Rajiv Varadarajan and Sumeet Kamat. Raaj Mohan had to pull out of the team due to an injury and Pratap Ballalasamudra joined the team.[6] The team represented the country at the / 2014 17th IRF Racquetball World Championships.

In the World Championships held in Burlington, Canada, from June 14-21, 2014, India finished 19th overall. Alok Mehta and Rajiv Varadarajan represented India in the Singles draw and Sumeet Kamat and Pratap Ballalasamudra teamed up as the Indian doubles team. Alok won three of his matches against Ukraine, Chile and Puerto Rico. Rajiv won a match against Catalunya and the doubles pair of Sumeet and Pratap won a bronze medal in the Men's White Division.

2012

Selected on the basis of the qualifiers held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Saint Louis, Missouri, Team India, composed of Venkat Vejju, Ashish Mehta, Nirup Shetty and Team Captain Sathwik Rai[7] represented the country at the / 2012 16th IRF Racquetball World Championships.

In the World Championships held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from August 4 to 11, 2012, India finished 13th out of the 22 competing countries. Ashish Mehta and Venkat Vejju represented India in the Singles draw and Sathwik Rai and Nirup Shetty teamed up as the Indian doubles team.

2010

The Indian Racquetball Team, composed of Sathwik Rai,[8] Raaj Mohan and Srikaran Kandadai, represented the country in the / 2010 15th World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. In the Team Event, India finished first in the Men's White division. In their first official appearance following the Indian citizenship requirement clause (under the auspices of ARFI) at the World Championships in 2010, India finished a creditable 13th out of 25 countries in the overall standings.[9] In the World Doubles event Raaj Mohan[10] and Srikaran Kandadai[11] won a silver medal in the Individual Doubles White Division. Out of the 37 players competing from 25 countries in the Individual Singles, Raaj Mohan finished 21st with two wins and Sathwik Rai finished 29th with one win.

2008 and earlier

Dr. Nanda (Nandu) Gudderra and Sudanshu (Sid) Harshavat competed in the 14th IRF World Racquetball Championships held at Kingscourt, Ireland. Nandu represented India as the number 1 seed in the Men's singles competition. Ranked number 26 in the first round of 64, he won the first round against Paul Devos of Belgium and in the round of 32 he lost to Canadian player, Vincent Ganon ranked number 7. In the Men's doubles competition, in the round of 32, Nandu teamed up with Sid Harshavat. As the #6 ranked Team, India won their first round match against the Honduras, before going down to the #1 doubles team in the world, Gilberto Mejia and Javier Moreno from Mexico in the round of 16. Men's team competition was forfeited due to injuries.

There has been representation of India at prior IRF World Championships under US based Indian federations. In the 2004 edition, Sanjay Laforest won the Men's singles gold in the Red Division, Ravi Sohoni and Bharat Maru teamed up to clinch the Men's Doubles bronze in the same division while Ullasini (Joy) Dholakia and Ayesha Khetani won bronze medal in the Women's Doubles competition in the White Division. Team India also bagged two medals in 2000 and three medals in 2002 edition of the World Championships. [12]

India has also been represented in IRF's Annual World Senior's Racquetball Championships held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The World Senior's edition is open to Men and Women above the ages of 35. This tournament was established in 1989. Between, 2010-2012 Alok Mehta[13] represented India. He participated in the Men's Singles Age 35-40, and Mixed Doubles Age 35-40. He won gold medals in the Mixed Doubles event with partner Tina Hagen from Colorado, USA in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Alok also won gold medals in the Men Singles Age division 35-40 in 2011 and 2012.

Promotion

Racquetball Association of India is leading initiatives to partner with the state authorities and the Indian Olympic association[14] for greater recognition. Sathwik Rai, Raaj Mohan and Srikaran Kandadai were the force behind Racquetball India and the pioneers of these initiatives. Srikaran is the current president of RAI. The first ever courts in the country were built in Hyderabad at Lanco Hills in 2013. The first ever racquetball tournament was held at these courts in 2014 - Lanco Hills India Open 2014 where 40 players participated in various divisions.

Team India is actively educating the Indian followers and audiences via their social media presence and is engaging with Racquetball bigwigs such as Wilson,[15]EKTELON, Head and EFORCE[16] to sponsor programs for Indian players.

Sponsors

The team was sponsored by Nuesoft Technologies Inc, a Medical Practice Management Software company in 2010. Each player has separate kit sponsors from racquetball companies such as Wilson, Eforce and Head. It's been a challenge getting large sponsors as the sport is still in its infancy in India. The team has been getting sporadic coverage in the Indian media but the lack of courts in the country currently has been a big disadvantage.

References

  1. ^ RacquetballIndia (18 July 2012). "RACQUETBALL INDIA PROMO" – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "TEAM INDIA Set For World Racquetball Championships | IPL Season 5". Sportstrack.in. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b "International Racquetball Federation".
  4. ^ "ASIA RACQUETBALL".
  5. ^ "Racquetball India". Racquetball India. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Racquetball India - Let's play with a roar!".
  7. ^ http://www.deccanchronicle.com/tabloid/bengaluru/smasher-rai-498
  8. ^ RacquetballIndia (26 November 2010). "Sathwik Rai talks to TV ASIA about TEAM INDIA" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ NAIR, AVINASH. "Having a ball".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-13. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-24. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Indian wins US Open Racquetball championship - Print". Indianembassy.org. 1999-12-13. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-17. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Indian Olympic Association".
  15. ^ "International Locations".
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-22. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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