Chennai, Oct 13 : She is the lone woman squash player in the country to have achieved the highest world ranking of 14 and since making her debut at the tender age of 10, this Chennai talent played her first international tournament in London when she was studying sixth grade. She is 21-year-old Chennai girl, Deepika Pallikal, who became only the second squash player to have won the Arjuna Award given by the Indian Government.
With seven interntional titles and five apperances in the final on the pro Tour, since turning professional in 2006, Deepika is now aiming to become the world champion. In a brief chat with UNI after being felicitated for winning the Arjuna Award this year by the Squash Rackets Federation of India(SRFI) at its academy here this morning, Deepika, asked what her goals were in the sport, averred, 'I want to become the world (singles) champion.'
Asked if that could be possible, she said, 'Why not?Iam training hard for the objecive with my coach Sarah (Fitzerald) of Australia-the former world champion).' 'She is my inspiration,' Deepika, who is also into modelling as a hobby, pointed out.Asked what about the secret behind squash becoming such a popular sport suddenly in India, Deepika, without batting an eyelid, said 'it's because of the performnce of our players in the interntional arena.'
She said like badminton, which was becoming very popular thanks to the exploits and world ranking of Saina Nehwal, squash was also attracting youngsters 'because of our players winning laurels.' Asked which other sport attracts her most, Deepika said, 'Tennis. I have played lot of tennis too.' Asked who (among sportspersons) inspired her, Deepika quipped 'my coach Sarah gives me all the inspiration.' Deepika also said she and her team mates would try hard to bring home a medal or two from the next Commonwealth Games to be held in England in 2014.