New Delhi: Dipika Pallikal broke into the world top 10, Saurav Ghosal celebrated the biggest PSA World Tour title win of his career and Joshna Chinappa claimed her maiden WISPA title at home as `old warhorses` continued to be the flag-bearers of Indian squash internationally in 2012.
Pallikal, whose phenomenal on-court success helped her become the first Indian to break into the top 10 of the WISPA rankings, reached the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York, finished in the top eight in the World Open, entered the semifinals of the Australian Open (a Gold event) and to top it all, received the prestigious Arjuna award to cap off a remarkable year for her.
The Chennai-girl further proved her credentials when she led India to a fifth-place finish in the WSF Women`s World Team Squash Championship at Nimes, France in November -- the country`s best performance in the competition.
Pallikal, whose next assignment is the World Open in Cayman Island later this month, has credited her Australian coach Sarah Fitz-Gerald for her transformation in the last two years and has now set her sights on joining the elite club of the world`s top five by next year.
"My next target is top five. I broke into the top 10 club this month and, hopefully by next year, I can break into the top five. That`s my immediate target," Pallikal said.
"Whatever I am today is because of Sarah. She has trained me really hard for the future challenges. Having the five-time world champion (Sarah) there really helped me a lot as she brings a lot of experience with her," she added.
For Pallikal, 2011 proved to be the turning point of her career which saw her winning three WISPA titles -Orange County Open in California, Dread Sports Series tournament in Washington and Crocodile Challenge Cup in Hong Kong.