Sunder Iyer is one of the first names that will pop in your head when you think...
This interview is with our little guest & angel Anahat Singh, aged 11, a student at British school, Chanakyapuri, and is ranked #1 in India, Asia & Europe in U13 Category. Playing since the age of 8 years, it seems Anahat was just born to Squash. Most fast-paced of all the racket sports, Squash has given immense agility, felxibility and courage to Anahat, to take it to another level.
She is the only player to have #1 ranking in different regions at the same time. In Jan 2020, she had a rocking start winning Silver at the British Junior Open in Birmingham. It hasn’t come easy to Anahat as she needs to juggle between her studies and sport. She had to really work hard to win the superseries titles and perform at the highest stage of British Open to top the chart and maintain the #1 ranks.
Anahat is decorated with two European Superseries titles, Gold at the European Junior Squash Open, Winning the Scottish Junior open and finally ending with British Junior Open in Jan 2020. With around 40 national titles to her name, this two-time national champion has also won Bronze at the Asian Juniors and Silver in Malaysian Junior 2018. Undoubtedly, Anahat has been on a winning spree at every corner of the globe and deserves to be called a global champion, we are tremendously proud of.
Read through to know more of her & her journey in the sport. Leave your comments below as we would want to hear from you as well.
Squash is not a hugely popular sport here. How did you start this journey at first place?
Credit goes to my sister, as I started playing because of her. I used to first play badminton myself and later moved to squash at the age of 8yrs. Initially she used to travel with parents for her tournaments and I used to stay back with my grandparents, but after some time I started going with my sister and see her closely during those tournaments. That motivated me to pick up the sport and take it forward.
Anahat, in action during British Junior Open 2019
How did your sister start her career? Tell us about your motivation factor and how does your parents support you in that process?
She enjoyed her sport when she started playing. She was trying to find a sport which she can enjoy, and squash was the one where her heart was.
My dad just plays at times to make us practice, but they don’t play it bigtime. However, they are hugely motivational and always encourage us to stay calm and focus on the game. We are here, due to their support & determination as well. In this fast & competitive world, that motivation is such a healing for athletes. My father is a lawyer and mother look after the business. They are quite busy in their work, but irrespective of that they find time for us and take me to play.
Anahat with her Sister, and her Parents
It’s a blessing that I have a sister, so good at sport and a family backing our intent.
So now, you are taking this sport as a profession? Tell us about your dream.
In the beginning I never thought of playing it professionally. So, I just to participate in the same tournaments, my sister used to go. But I am quite sure of that now and definitely taking it professionally. I want to be the world champion in women’s category.
Anahat, winning the Malaysian Junior Open 2018
These days, I am in Delhi and practicing here. During Covid, we made a makeshift arrange in our living room and used that to practice. Now, we are allowed to step out, but we are still taking precautions since our grandparents live with us and Covid can really create problems for elderly people. Last 8-9 months, things have been like this.
How do you find time to practice and play, considering that you still need to attend school, submit assignments etc.?
During normal days and school durations, I normally practice 2~3hrs a day. But over weekend we do two such sessions. Once a week, we do a break to relax the body.
Anahat, with her school friends
Since the schooling is online, it has got little easy to manage time. I can finish classes, and other studies and freeup myself to do my fitness and sports practice in the 2nd half of the day. Target is to give due importance to both, and keep things balanced. Parents are alright and supportive of the process as well.
Tell us about your coaching and mentoring.
At first, I used to go and play with my sister, and try to hit the ball hard. Since I wanted to take the sport seriously, I had to go to the professional coach. I am coaching with Gaurav sir now, and its going well. I am also being mentored by Amjad Khan sir, a former national level squash player. They are the best in the business, and I am grateful for their time and effort. I sincerely hope to keep winning and continue the momentum, post Covid.
Coaches always push me harder to improve my game. To learn, we need to practice and learn from players who are the best in the sport. I listen to my coaches diligently and follow their advice.
You missed the Gold in British open by a whisker. What’s your plan for 2021?
I was really happy, since my semis was such a tough match, and I won that game. Perhaps I took the finals little lightly, and that could be reason of losing the finals by a whisker. I could have performed better and pushed myself little more in the Asians Juniors too, where I got Bronze. But past is past, and these experiences have taught me a lot.
Anahat, with the trophy at the British Junior Open 2019
My next target is to win the next year Asian & British Open. All my focus is currently dedicated to these two tournaments in 2021.
How do you handle tough situations, during games?
I never really get tensed during the matches. I just play to enjoy and stay positive about things around me. I know that if I get nervy or stressed, then I will start making mistakes and it will impact my game.
Your idol in the Sport.
Nour El Tayeb, as she is amongst the top. I love the way she plays her game. She has those risky shots which I love to do in my matches too. So, I want my shots to be as precise and as good as her when I grow older.
Tell us about your associations with sponsors?
The rackets and other gears are supported by Dunlop.
Anahat with her sponsors, Dunlop
Mainly for international tournaments, I need to get permission from SRFI (Squash Rackets Federation of India), and they provide us with some finances to manage the travel and other things. For National tournaments, my parents manage my expenses.
Main Image Credit: British Junior Open Twitter Handle
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