The flipside to the thwack and thunder of an attempted kill shot in squash is that it can go bust all too quickly. Sooner than not in the glass-walled confines of a court you are staring at an opponents lead,and struggling to control the adrenaline rush that comes from that very thwack and thunder. The sport rewards patient rallying and matching of wits over a stretched-out point and Dipika Pallikal is relishing the prolonged rhythm that makes squash such a stamina sport.
In winning the biggest title of her career at Macau this Sunday a Womens Squash Association (WSA) Silver band event and getting past the wily Grinham sisters,Dipika displayed signs of maturity that belie the rash-headedness of a 22-year-old who could have easily fallen prey to the slam-bang version of attack in the walled court.
In the semis and finals against sisters Natalie and Rachel masters of wristy nuance and clever variations of pace Dipikas surprise factor was the fact that she was prepared to drive the ball to length for longer,show patience and construct points rather than trying to hit winners too early and suffer an imploding head-rush.
A natural athlete (her mum played cricket for India) and a committed slave to fitness drills as well as an innate strokeplayer,Dipika,who made the Top 10 last December had everything going for her everything but the discretion to pick and choose when to go into the offensive.
Choosing her kill moments and drawing opponents into well-planned traps besides tiring them out are the astute moves the Chennai girl is learning after seven years on the circuit.
Her Aussie coach former World No.1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald has stressed on repetition of basics,and insists that in fighting for every rally,and after trailing wildly in games,Dipikas recent improvement have come as a result of her renewed motivation,which has led to consistent training and better fitness and ultimately self confidence. Her improved fitness means she is in better shape,which has given her self belief and confidence. The feisty player always had the ability. Now shes capable of buying herself time to set up the kills.
Shivani is assistant editor based in Mumbai