Written by FHM India
Born in Chennai, she grew up trying out all kind of outdoor sports, but luckily for her, squash happened early. “My family has always been into sports. Till I picked up the squash racket, I played other games, but at age 10, I started tagging along with my best friend who was learning squash.”
Pallikal played her first singles when she was in sixth grade and till now she has won the German Open, French Open, Dutch Open, Scottish Open and Australian Open on the European Junior Squash circuit. However, winning the British Junior 2008 and reaching the quarters of World Squash Open last year have been the highlights for her. “They helped me achieve a milestone in my career,” she proudly says. “But there are off-moments too. Whenever I’m on court I give my best, but when I retrieve to the players room, I’m like – had I done this I could’ve won.”
Being in the Top 20, she has to go through rigorous training. “Everything is so close that to keep myself in the race, I train the entire day and the schedule doesn’t change much, even when I’m not competing,” she tells us.
Your trainer sounds like Hitler. “Who, Sarah Fitz-Gerald? (Laughs) No way. She’s not strict, but yes she makes you work really hard. I’ve been with her for the last 1.5 years and it has been awesome. She is an ex-squash player and 5-time World Champion. The best part is, we are more like buddies and I can discuss anything apart from the game with her too.”
Dipika shuffles between India and Australia for training, but even the glitzy nights Down Under can’t get her out for parties. “(Laughs) I can’t help it. I train the whole day, so when I’m home, I just hit the bed. To be honest, I’m not a party person, but I do like to catch up on movies,” she adds
For the past month, Adele’s Rolling In the Deep has been playing repeatedly on her iPod. “I listen to a lot of music and currently this track has me mesmerised. While travelling and during warm up sessions, we keep our cool through music.”
Thanks to her stupefying wins in 2011, the 20-year-old climbed to her career-best ranking in February 2012. From the 29th spot, today Dipika is ranked 14th, surpassing the world rank (27th) held by former national champion Misha Grewal in 1995.
Squash may not be as glamorous as tennis, but she’s definitely not shabbily dressed either. “We girls definitely focus on fashion. It’s important to make the sport glamourous,” she laughs. “Cricket will always be a religion, so there’s no point fighting it, but I think it has become better for other sports as well. All we have to do is keep playing better,” she adds signing off.