Samairah Bhandare recently entered the finals at the JJ Sports Squash Open, Kanyakumari, in the girls under-13 category, and emerged victorious.
She defeated second seed Riya Balaji from Tamil Nadu, to claim the win. Earlier in the semi-finals she defeated Katrina John from Kerala.
It was the first ever open squash tournament to be held in Kanyakumari and the championship saw 122 players participating from various states in India.
The 11-year-old trains under coach, Rehman Hubli and plays in the national circuit in the girls under-13 category. In the previous nationals in the girls under-11 category she finished in the ninth position.
The student of Navy Children School, Vasco says she began playing tennis at the age of six and fell in love with the racquet sport. Since there weren’t any tennis training facilities in Vasco, she had to travel to Panaji to train and it became very time consuming. She could pursue it only for about 18 months after which there was a gap of almost a year and a half.
Determined not to give the sport up, she decided to pursue squash, another racquet sport. “At age nine she met squash coach Rehman Hubli and his advice was sought. He called her for a practice session which Samairah went for reluctantly. And it was with this first session that her passion for the game came to be,” informs her mother Sneha Bhandare.
Samairah practices almost 20 hours a week. Due to her tournaments she travels extensively across India and misses school. Thus, she travels with her books and catches up on missed classes with her mother’s help.