Bengaluru: Tarun Mammen, one of the talented youngsters emerging from the Indian squash ecosystem, has accomplished the dream of becoming a pro player.
The 19-year-old, who won the Karnataka State Squash Championship in Bengaluru in February, has earned a ticket to compete at a higher level on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) circuit representing India.
The top-ranked Karnataka player who has grown steadily over the past couple of years, Tarun is now waiting for the relaxation of travel and visa restrictions related to COVID-19 so that he can take part in the PSA World Tour which involves over 200 tournaments annually all over the globe.
Tarun, who picked up the sport at the age of 11, honed his playing skills at the famous Bangalore Club and showed tremendous potential as a junior. He did well at the state-level age-group competitions, winning the U-17 and U-19 titles. He is currently ranked 43rd in India whereas his PSA rank is 721.
Tarun's parents are from Kerala and the family is settled in Bengaluru. His father Roy Mammen of Thayil Kandathil family is the managing director of MM Foam while his mother Miriam Mammen works as a content creator for the Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation Aarunya Foundation. His sister Keya Mammen is a 10th standard student of Bangalore International School.
Tarun has a target in mind for the near future. “I want to represent India at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. To do so, I will have to break into the top six at the national level," he said.
A second year BBA Entrepreneurship student of St. Joseph's College of Commerce in Bengaluru, Tarun is now preparing for the domestic PSA event to be held in Chennai next month.
Tarun is coached by India international Mahesh Mangaonkar, who is the No. 2 ranked player in the country. Mahesh, who is currently working with the Finland Squash Federation as sparring partner for national team players, reaches out to his young trainee online.
"As training facilities and courts remain closed due to the lockdown, I'm now focussing primarily on improving my fitness levels. I'm hoping to resume training at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Yelahanka by next week," Tarun said.
Someone who loves travelling and indulging in outdoor activities, the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown have deprived the youngster of many simple joys. "As I'm forced to remain confined to the safety of home, I tried my hand at cooking to beat lockdown blues," he said.
The one player whom Tarun idolises is Egyptian Ramy Ashour. The three-time world champion, who retired from professional squash in 2019, is widely regarded as one of the best squash players in the history of the sport. His favourite Indian player is the current national champion Saurav Ghosal.