Velavan Senthilkumar won the Batch Open in Paris by the end of last month and subsequently reached his career-best singles ranking of 55 in the PSA men’s singles World rankings.

On Wednesday, he won the men’s doubles title with his partner Abhay Singh at the HCL National doubles squash championship.

Velavan was ranked beyond 200 at the beginning of last year. In November he had attributed his progress to meditation, visualisation, and staying in the moment, and stated his desire to break into the top-50 in the rankings.

He had remarkably been nerveless in crunch moments to manage come-from-behind victories.

Speaking after the win on Wednesday, he further revealed that he’s been working with a mental coach, Paul Price.

Australian Price, a former World No. 4, has been working to enhance Velavan’s mental resilience, focus, and overall performance in squash by providing personalised strategies and support.

“I’ve been working with him probably since September and it’s been really helpful. So, I speak with him before and during every tournament – before and after my match. I’m always in constant contact with him and that really helps a lot. I feel like he really understands what a squash player goes through specifically in terms of, like, dealing with a win and a loss. Sometimes, after a loss, you’re just, like, really low, and then there are some things that he’s helped me navigate that works for me.

“For example, there are certain things that I have, that I need to do during the day that helps me stay really calm. It’s probably just, like, reading. I like to slow down time a little bit, because sometimes I just find myself in fast pace and just moving from one thing to the other.

“I just changed a lot of things in my everyday routine and that’s really helped. We’ve together navigated what specifically works for me to my liking. Like, sometimes, movies; reading different types of books, just stuff like that. It takes my mind off a match or squash for a bit,” said the 26-year-old.

The reigning singles National champion mentioned that playing doubles requires a different type of training and said that he and Abhay specifically practise together before any doubles tournament.

“I enjoy playing doubles. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of, like, different angles. It’s a whole different game from the singles and it does take a specific type of training. The more doubles you play, the better you are at it. Abhay and I, if we have a doubles tournament coming up, we just practise a little bit to get back our body language and get our minds into it – dealing with different angles and the width of the court.”

He said that they both have a good on-court connection and support each other’s confidence during matches. “I’m a left-hander. So, both of us play forehand on both sides!” he added.

The pair, by virtue of having won the men’s doubles National title, will represent India in the men’s doubles category at the Asian doubles championships in July at Johor in Malaysia.

Speaking about their chances at the event, he said, “It’s going to be hard for sure. But I also think we are a really good pair to have a chance at a medal at the Asian Doubles. Malaysia is going to be tough. And then, there is also Hong Kong. I think these two (will be tough competitors), off the top of my head.”