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Carla Khan seeks strong revival on comeback trail

Lahore

July 29, 2006

MANCHESTER: When Carla Khan made a comeback on the international women’s squash circuit earlier this summer, she expected to find her touch within weeks. But after a series of mixed results in recent weeks, she is not so sure.

“I was hoping that things would be all right for me after a few tournaments but now it seems that it would take three to six months for me to find my form back,” the Pakistan champion told ‘The News’. The London-based Carla was out of the WISPA circuit for several months because of illness and just returned to competitive squash a few weeks back.

Carla, a granddaughter of Pakistani squash legend Azam Khan, did well in her comeback event - Qatar Airways Open in the South Indian city of Hyderabad - as she qualified for the main rounds of the tournament before falling to a seeded player. But her second attempt at another WISPA event in Hong Kong earlier this month was a disaster.

Her extended absence from the world tour saw Carla dropping to a disappointing 44th position in the international rankings. It’s a far cry from a career-high No. 21 that she attained in the summer of 2004.

Carla, 24, believes that she will have to regain her place in the top-25 by the end of this year. But her biggest hurdle is that she can’t get good sparring partners in London. “I play and train at various clubs in London but seldom get a chance to hit the ball with a player better than me. That is a big handicap,” she revealed.

She is looking for a solution to this problem and believes it’s the country of her ancestors that can provide the answer. “I am planning to travel to Pakistan soon because there I can get much better training,” she told.

And it is not with the girls that she wants to train with in Pakistan. It’s the boys.

“I don’t want to sound any snobbish but the problem is that the standard of the Pakistani girls is not very high at the moment. The only way I can improve is if

I train with the boys,” she remarked.

Carla is aiming to put her comeback effort on track by giving an improved showing in the Alexandria Sporting Club Open next month. The US$15,000 tournament would be played in the Egyptian city of Alexandria from August 20-24. “I need to provide myself a confidence booster and a better result in Alexandria can do that,” said the 24-year-old, Pakistan’s best-ranked player on the WISPA circuit ever.

Carla plans to come to Pakistan for a few weeks before the Alexandria assignment and train in Islamabad. “I believe that there is a non-stop training camp for the boys in Islamabad,” she revealed.

Carla has been down and out for a while but is still hopeful of making it big in the squash world.

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