My Story: Sachika Ingale, The Indian Professional Squash Player Who Rewrote Her Destiny
This is my story. I am Sachika Ingale. I was introduced to squash by my father who was in the Indian Air Force and played for the services. I was eight when I first picked up the racket. There was no looking back. So, I played my first tournament in the boys category U-9 as there were no girls category for that age group. When my father got posted to Delhi, I continued to play and at that time Squash was growing in Delhi and I got opportunities to play a lot of tournaments.
PLAYING IT RIGHT
I started taking squash more and more seriously as I was performing well and winning almost all of the northern Indian ones. Soon I became the captain for the Delhi team U-11 then U-13 and U-15 category and continued. This really kept me going and motivated. I was turning into one of the best junior players in the country. When I was 15 years old, in July 2010 I went for a tournament in Mumbai called the Otters Open. I was playing in U17 and Women’s category. I was supposed to play the semifinals in both the categories, after very hard fought wins but very unfortunately, the day before my matches, I met with a lethal road accident which led to a fractured jaw, broken toe and completely ruptured meniscus and acl in my right knee.
Hard work always wins in the end
AND IT CHANGED…
I didn’t know what had happened at that time. My mother was with me and I was rushed to the hospital immediately. I was unconscious the whole time but when I woke up with a lot of painkillers in my system, I was on a wheelchair and I looked at my mother and I asked her “why are we going back to Delhi tonight? I need to play my matches tomorrow!” I was in fact trying to convince her that I could still play! Little did I know. I was operated for my jaw as soon as possible when we were in Delhi then within the next week for my toe. After healing from those operations, my knee was the main concern as the swelling wasn’t going down and I couldn’t walk properly.
I was off squash for the whole year.
We saw many doctors and almost all of them said the same thing, that I wouldn’t be able to play squash at a competitive level again.
It was the toughest time for me both physically as well as mentally but as always I had the best support from my parents and they never let me give up and supported me throughout, day in and day out. Asking around and with the help of Ritwik Bhattacharya, a legend in Indian squash, we finally found some answers. We finally got in touch with Dr Anant Joshi, one of the best doctors in India for knee surgery. He agreed to operate and he then operated my knee on 9th October 2010 in Mumbai. Then I was on a very very strict rehab programme in Delhi RnR Army hospital and I was lucky to have had everyone around me who believed in me and were devoted to getting me back on the court.
IT WAS ALL CONSUMING…
It was a very difficult time for my family but without their input and hard work with me, the fact that I am playing professionally now, wouldn’t have been possible. I was doing physiotherapy and rehab six hours a day, every day for six months.
A year after this, I was called for selection trials which I won and was selected to represent the Indian team in 2011 Asian junior championship. This was my first Indian team representation. And since then I have never looked back. I won the bronze medal in senior nationals in 2012. I was the only Indian to reach the pre quarters in the world juniors individual championship in 2013 which was held in Poland.
Then I reached the finals of senior nationals in 2014 losing to Joshna Chinappa in the finals who is now no. 1 ranked player in India and been a top 10 ranked player in the world. I won my first ever played a professional tournament in Pakistan in 2014 as well.
Self belief and hard work always bring you success
I won the bronze medal in national games 2015 in Kerala. In 2016 won the silver medal in Asian women’s team championship in Taipei.
I achieved my career high ranking, 71, in 2017 and I am currently the 3rd ranked player in India. Not to forget at all, I have been training on my very own without any coaches since 2014. I live in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh and unfortunately there are no coaches or anyone to train with.
Due to the lack of exposure to this sport, it is very difficult to find sponsors and any funding for training or finding a training base. So I have been doing the best I can by myself. My aim is to be the best in the sport and I will continue my journey for success and keep working hard and I really hope everyone believes in me because after all of this I believe in myself.
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