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Mandhian hopes for dream debut

Dubai-based squash player featuring in this week’s French Junior Open

Image Credit: Courtesy: Maanav Mandhian
Maanav Mandhian
Gulf News

Dubai: UAE-based Maanav Mandhian is hoping for a strong start as he makes his European debut at this week’s French Junior Squash Open in Lille.

Mandhian, who trains under UAE squash coach Abbas Khan, is scheduled to start off his campaign in his first-ever international tournament at 12.30pm [3.30pm UAE].

The 18-year-old has been making waves on the UAE squash since announcing his arrival earlier last year. Since then, the Emirates International School student has been successfully picking up titles during domestic competitions organised within the UAE.

“I need this trip to gauge where I stand as a player,” Mandhian told Gulf News after landing in Lille late on Tuesday.

“The focus and goal will always be in making a strong start as this is first ever truly international competition. I have worked hard under my coach and I have the confidence I can match any player. But once one is on the court then it is a combination of so many different things,” he added.

The annual French Junior Open is held for boys and girls in four age categories starting from under-13s to under-19s. Players are allowed to enter only one category of competition. Mandhian, who has been given a seeding of No. 17, will be participating in the under-19 category.

The draw size varies with the boys’ categories attracting 64 players in each of the four age groups, while for the girls there is a cut-off at 32 players. “For me this is a brand new experience, but one that I want to continue learning from. I have played in a few tournaments in India, but going to Europe is a completely different feeling. The good thing, however, is that I have spent the last two months preparing for this event so that I can give off my best,” Mandhian said.

“Things have not been too easy for me as I have struggled at times to strike a balance between sports and school. I think I have somehow done well till now, and this international competition will definitely be an indicator where I want to be after this,” he added.

Nearly 300 youngsters will be seen in action at the Wam Club in Lille from 3pm [6pm UAE] on Thursday.