My dream is to win the British Junior Open: Squash player Yuvraj Wadhwani
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Ranked 4th in the Boys U17 Category, squash player Yuvraj Wadhwani is the winner of the Asian Junior Squash Championships (U13) 2018, becoming only the second Indian to win the prestigious tournament. He was inducted into the Virat Kohli Foundation in 2019 and finished third at the British Junior Open World Championships Birmingham BU13.
In this exclusive interview, Yuvraj Wadhwani speaks about his journey as a professional squash player, experience at the German and Dutch Open, biggest inspirations in his career, importance of mental strength and his future goals.
Q 1) When did you first start playing squash? What about the sport caught your attention and motivated you to pursue it professionally?
I started playing squash at the age of 7. Prior to that I swam at the district level and won many medals in swimming. My keystroke was the butterfly stroke. I also played chess at a district and state level till the age of 8 before making squash my primary sport. I started playing squash with my dad for fun and joined the squash academy at Khar Gymkhana during my summer vacation. I enjoyed it a lot as it involved a lot of interaction with other players and even uncles who sweetly played with me there. But as school timings did not allow me to pursue all 3 sports I had to choose. I chose squash as it was fun, energetic and like playing physical chess. Also, the fact that I always had an excellent hand eye coordination from a young age probably helped me in squash.
Q 2) You finished 4th and 6th in the German and Dutch Open. How was the experience and what did you learn from it?
I love the feeling of representing India. It makes you feel proud and on top of the world. You learn a lot about your own game especially when you play the best of the best in the world. There is a learning curve involved and it pushes you to work harder. Unfortunately, my 10th Standard board exams were over just a month before these 2 tournaments, not giving me the adequate time required to train for them. Though I did train during my exams I wasn’t able to put in the kind of hours I would have liked. Despite that I would say that the results were great. I also secured a 97.8 % in my ICSE board exams.
Q 3) Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career so far and why?
One of my biggest inspirations is Mr. Virat Kohli. Nothing was handed to him easily. He has earned everything from pure dedication, hard work and passion. Few things I love about him are his never give up attitude, always putting his best foot forward and his hunger to succeed.
Q 4) What is your training regime before a big event? How important is mental strength to succeed as a professional squash player?
A lot of preparation goes in before an event. One needs to start fitness training & technique correction months prior to the event and then step up to match practice just prior. Mental fitness plays a huge part in the game. Especially when it’s a 3-2 game and you are at 10 all in the 5th set. It's all about grit and nerves. My current coach Ritwik Bhattacharya is a great mentor and pushes you to do your best. I also have a great team of coaches, my parents and my Nani (my biggest fan) backing me who help me with the support I need.
Q 5) You’re currently in the top 5 in the U17 category. Would you say it’s the biggest achievement of your career? If not, which accomplishment do you consider the most special and why?
My most special accomplishment was when I was chosen to represent India in the Boys Under 13 category in the No. 1 position. I was only 11 and the youngest player to represent India in Asian Junior Individual Championships that year. My Asian Junior Gold & Silver medal along with my 4 Junior National titles are extremely dear to me and I hope to win them again. My biggest dream in the junior category is to win the British Junior Open one day.
Q 6) What are your future goals as a squash player? How do you plan to achieve them?
If wishes would come true then in the short term I do hope to win a British Junior title, an Asian Junior and a Junior National title. This will involve a lot of teamwork, hard work and dedication. I will need to work on my fitness, my game, my strength, and mental conditioning all in 1. I must thank my school, Bombay Scottish School, Mahim who have extended help in all possible ways to help me achieve my goals. My coach Ritwik Bhattacharya and his team, coach Avinash Bhavnani, the Indian squash federation, my clubs, and everyone who contributed towards my success. In the long term, I do hope to represent India in the Asian and Commonwealth games and win a PSA title.