Squash star Sunayna Kuruvilla on challenges, future plans and coping with lockdown

 Sunayna Kuruvilla with her pet dog
Sunayna Kuruvilla with her pet dog. Photo: Instagram

Rising Indian squash star Sunayna Kuruvilla was flying high and had achieved a personal best ranking of 67 in February, 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic upset her plans. She was forced to take a break when her career was on an upward curve.

The 22-year-old, the cousin of Indian squash icon Dipika Pallikal, has her roots in Kerala. She was part of the Indian team which won silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. Sunayna spoke to Onmanorama over the phone from Chennai about her future plans, lockdown days and hobbies.

How challenging has been the lockdown?

It's been tough. I have been at home for the last two months. I have been not able to train.

The competitions have been too few of late..

I have not played after the Chennai leg of the PSA Challenger Tour in March. (Sunayna lost to Egypt's Malak Kamal in the quarterfinals). Before that I had won the Tamil Nadu State Championship in February.

How tough has been the fight against the pandemic?

It's been tough, but I am grateful that all my family is safe. Until now God has been really gracious to us. Apart from that I have not been able to move at all. I have been stuck here and it's been very difficult squash wise and career wise. I am just holding on and hoping that this will pass.

Sunayna Kuruvilla
Sunayna Kuruvilla was a member of the Indian team which won silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games. File photo: AFP

What are your future goals?

The aim is to keep representing the country and win more medals. I hope to do well and establish myself and improve the ranking. Also be the best that I can possibly be and not try to emulate someone. Just make use of the talent that God has blessed me with. I don't know when I can play again. Everything is unclear and uncertain right now.

How do you keep yourself fit?

Right now, I can't go to the gym. I have been just doing basic stuff at home using a mat and dumbbell for the past couple of months. Everything had opened up last August and it went off well till March.

How crucial has been the role of your family in your success?

My entire family has been very important to me. Everyone has played a very important role. My mom, dad and sister have been extremely supportive. I can always fall back on them.

Sunayna  Kuruvilla
Sunayna Kuruvilla owes her success to her family. Photo: Instagram

Tell us about your studies...

I completed BSc Visual Communication from MOP Vaishnav (College for Women, Chennai), in 2019.

What are your hobbies?

In the last one-and-a-half-year I started learning scripture and reading the Bible a lot more. I have been attending a lot of Bible studies online and trying to get stronger in my faith and walk with Jesus.

Apart from that I really enjoy watching movies, read a lot of online articles, catch up with old friends. I have also been able to spend more time with my family. I enjoy cooking and I have been going to the kitchen a lot more! 

I have a dog (Hush) for the last 13 years and she's been my pet. She's been with me for more than half my life!

Your favourite movies and TV shows?

I love Malayalam films. Recently I watched Nayattu, Helen, Forensic etc. I can watch Bangalore Days over and over! I also like to watch Nadiya Bakes cooking show on Netflix.

Do you have any superstitions on court?

I used to have a lot of superstitions. But ever since I started walking with God I think all those superstitions have been completely taken away. I am just glad that I am a lot more free now and just focus on playing.


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