FOR lanky M. Kiroshanna, squash was a hobby but today it has become an ambition.
The 12-year-old Negri Sembilan-born youngster is determined to earn her stripes and emerge a strong force in the national and international squash arena.
Kiroshanna has proven herself as one of the rising stars in Asia. In the recent Asian Junior Individual championships in Tehran Iran, she won the girls’ Under-13 title after defeating Wong Heng Wai 11-5, 11-6, 11-9 in the final.
To make it a memorable outing, the victory was in the presence of her mother, school teacher N. Sarla Devi, who had encouraged Kiroshanna to take up squash as a hobby.
“I was idling at home and my mother encouraged me to join her friend’s children’s squash sessions. It was supposed to be a hobby to keep me active. But soon I was enjoying the game and squash became a daily affair,’’ said Kiroshanna.
That was about four years ago. Then she was training under local coach G. Shivaji in Seremban. After almost a year of regular training, Kiroshanna was given the opportunity to play in competitions. She was making her presence felt in age group competitions in Negri Sembilan.
In the national scene, Kiroshanna was second in the girls’ Under-9 age group in the Milo-Prince KL Junior Open championships in 2011.
In 2012 and 2013, the Year Six pupil at SK Puteri, Seremban, made her presence felt by being on podium in most of the age group competitions.
Her first international victory was in the Head-Hong Kong Junior squash championships. She became the girls’ Under-11 champion after a 3-1 win over Hong Kong’s Fung Ching Hei in the final.
Currently she is under the guidance of Pakistan coach Zulfikar Khan and trains six days a week. Besides court training, Kiroshanna also goes for regular runs.
This year, besides winning in Tehran, Kiroshanna was the Under-12 champion in the Milo-Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) squash championships; champion in the Under-13 age group in the second leg of the CIMB Foundation Rising Star and runner-up in the grand final of the CIMB Foundation Rising Star.
In the Penang Junior Open, Kiroshanna was fourth in the girls’ Under-13 age group.
In the recent, Nicol David Cup competition in Malacca, Kiroshanna won the individual title. In the final, the 1.75m tall Kiroshanna defeated Wong Heng Hai to the gold medal.
“Last year, I had to settle for fourth spot. I was determined to win the gold medal. I am happy to win the title. It is very encouraging and I am looking forward to the Red Tone International Junior championships. I finished third last year and I am eager to improve my placing,’’ said Kiroshanna.
Currently ranked sixth in the Under-13 age group in the Asian Squash Federation (ASF), Kiroshanna will be playing in more competitions next year.
“I have to play in as many competitions to improve my game. After the Asian Junior championships, in Tehran, I realised the importance of mental training and how much positive attitude contributes to my game.
“So I have to focus on these two factors to realise my dreams of becoming an accomplished player,’’ said Kiroshanna.