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Tough training in Cairo paid off: Mangaonkar

Plenty of sweat and 100 percent commitment over past month under the guidance of world-renowned Egyptian Amir Wagih finally paid off for Mumbai lad Mahesh Mangaonkar.

Written by Shailendra Awasthi | Mumbai |
January 8, 2009 1:37:49 am

Plenty of sweat and 100 percent commitment over past month under the guidance of world-renowned Egyptian Amir Wagih finally paid off for Mumbai lad Mahesh Mangaonkar. The lanky youngster’s thumping title win in the British Junior Open tournament on Tuesday night has made first Indian ever to have clinched this prestigious crown in the under-15 category.

“It’s certainly the hard work and an able guidance of Wagih that has propped me up to this great height,”said national under-15 champion while speaking to The Indian Express from Sheffield in England.

German Open junior champion Mangaonkar’s impressive 3-1 win over world No 1 under-15 player Oliver Holland from England wasn’t a fluke. “I had earlier defeated him the German Open in April last year. So I clearly had the psychological advantage over him,”says Mangaonkar. “I knew his weaknesses and,therefore was well prepared. Though I knew his game,he put up a good fight and I’m happy that I managed to claim the crown,”said the 14-year-old.

Talking about his daily routine on the courts in Cairo with Wagih,Mangaonkar explained: “The mornings used to start with two-hour practice session with Wagih where he would teach me about shot-making and court coverage. Then I had to undergo two-hours of extensive fitness training and then again in the evenings I used to play with various higher-ranked players,”said Mangaonkar who was put onto Wagih by his regular coach Waman Apte. Wagih is also the coach of World No 1 player Amr Shabana of Egypt.

Sweating out under Wagih has also made Mangaonkar much fitter and that helped him a lot during his run in the British Open. “I’m very fit now. The hard training in Cairo was a big confidence booster. I played some good matches and never really felt that tired,”says the Indian who had caused a mini-stir this year when he made the quarterfinals of the senior Nationals,when still 14.

Mangaonkar’s good height,he stands at 5’ 9”,also came to his aid in his quest. “It indeed helped me in reaching for my shots early. Due to height I needed fewer steps to cover the entire court,” pointed out Mangaonkar who comes from a sporting family (his father was a weight-lifter,mother a shuttler,while the boy now is shooting up while dabbling in some basketball also).

Now with British Open title in his pocket,Mangaonkar agrees that there is no point in keep playing in under-16 or under-17 categories. He has set his eyes on under-19 level which is what really matters in the world of squash. “In couple of years I want to start playing on the Professional Squash Association’s circuit. There lies the real test,” said the 9th standard student of the Don Bosco High School (Borivali).

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