When did you start playing and do you remember why you started?
I started squash at the age of 13. I saw people playing squash at MCC club in Chennai and was really intrigued by it. I found squash different from most racquet sports and it is extremely fast-paced which I really enjoy.
Are you a Predator or a Buddha when you’re on the field?
I think I try and find a good balance between both.
Any pre-match, post-match rituals you follow
Before the match, I usually meditate for a couple of minutes and do my warm ups with music on. I rarely talk to people before my match; I prefer focusing on my own thoughts and strategies for the game. Post-match rituals mostly include stretching, cooling down and analyzing my performance.
One win/loss that you are very proud of
I am very proud of my win at the Spanish open where I competed against a strong opponent while suffering from an injury, sickness and lack of sleep. But when I entered the court I was able to overcome any amount of pain to clinch that title. I was amazed at the strength I acquired playing squash . It is my proudest win so far!
The toughest punishment is given to you by your coach
After a poor performance, I was asked to stay off the court for an entire week! And for a person who spent almost 8-9 hours a day, on court, it almost felt like my life was meaningless for that entire week! Not being able to play squash felt like punishment in itself.
What does it mean to you to represent India?
My love for India has been the driving factor especially when I compete internationally. There have been times when I have felt like giving up, either due to pain or injury, but what keeps me going is knowing that I am fighting for something big. I am extremely proud to represent India, it’s a true honor.
You have a chance to play another sport. Which one would it be? Why?
I used to play badminton before I started squash. It is a fantastic sport. Much like squash it is really fast-paced and requires a lot of agility. Even today when I feel like taking a break from squash , I play badminton. And sometimes I give my shot at tennis too!
How will you want to be known in 10 years from now?
I want people to know me as a girl who is passionate, hardworking , a girl who was never afraid to follow her dreams!
In what area of your game do you think you need to improve?
I feel that after a certain point in the professional circuit, every athlete has more or less the same level of game. But it is the mental aspect that has to constantly be revised and strengthened. So that is something I constantly have to work on.
Who do you think will be the flag bearer for India in ‘TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020’
Honestly, I am waiting for a day when a squash player would be the flag bearer and represent our country , but as squash is not in the olympics yet , I would envision strong athletes like PV sindhu or Saina Nehwal being our flag bearers.
Perk of being an athlete
You stay young and fit all your life! I used to fall sick very often as a child, I spent a massive chunk of my childhood in and out of hospitals. But after squash came into my life I am both physically and mentally healthy. I am honestly indebted to this sport for letting me be the healthiest and happiest version of myself.
Your first match. Talk us through it
It’s a long short story.I basically froze on the court! I still remember vividly that I was so nervous and scared and I wasn’t able to perform. But it was one of the most iconic moments in my career as it stands a testimony of how far I have come and shows me where I started from! I guess that keeps me grounded!
Who is your favourite opponent?
My opponents are the ones that keep me going but there are way too many! They have all taught me something! So I am thankful to each and every one of them.
What matters the most during ‘Do or Die’ situations?
Your love for what you do is what matters in Do or die situations. Love has the power to give you strength and courage to fight until the very last moment.
What are your secret skills?
Thinking unconventionally and being able to adapt to situations really quickly. Both come in handy on and off the court!
What are the most common roadblocks that stop racers from achieving their dreams?
The lack of resilience and hard work. Consistency is crucial for any professional athlete.
If you had to be stranded on a deserted island for one month, which one of your teammates would you want to bring with you and why?
If I had to pick someone from the Indian team, I would bring Saurav Ghosal. Not only is he an incredibly talented athlete, he is an extremely friendly and outgoing person.
One teacher, you recommend should take up anger management?
They would be furious if I did take their names.
If you could get a tattoo, what would it be?
It would be the double infinity sign! Cause I believe the universe is full of infinite possibilities!
Your most embarrassing moment
When I forgot to pack my shoes for the Australian Open and did not have time to go back to the hotel. I ended up playing with shoes that did not fit me right. Though i managed to win,it was a major facepalm moment for me! haha
Your message to India U17 football team for FIFA U17 World Cup 2017
Firstly congratulations for representing India at such a prestigious tournament. I think we have immensely talented and dedicated athletes so I have no doubt in my mind that they are going make us all proud. It’s time to put India on the world map in football as well! Good Luck!
Describe ONE moment that you won’t forget
When a little girl and her parents came up to me and said that I had inspired their 10-year-old daughter to play badminton. She said that I was her inspiration to follow her dreams. She also said she wanted to represent her country one day like me. Truly, it was a very touching moment and I will never forget it.
One message to your opponents
You have made me who I am today by consistently pushing me to continue working hard!
Your biggest achievements so far
Being a part of the professional circuit at the age of 16.
Gold in the All India Punj Lloyd PSA Masters held at the Commonwealth Games Arena in New Delhi, Finland Open, Slovak open, Swiss Open and being recognized as the ‘Athlete of the Year’ at the age of 17.