The youngest Junior National Champion and a member of the women's squash team that won the bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games, Anwesha Reddy takes us on a journey through her life.
By Arun Sharma
While squash is yet to attain the popularity it deserves in India, Anwesha's career in the sport is one that has gone from strength to strength. In an interview with ParentCircle, she speaks about her childhood, how her parents helped her succeed, her father’s mantra for success and her future.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
ParentCircle: Share with us some glimpses from your childhood (what you liked to do, whether you were always interested in sport, your parent’s reaction to playing at the professional level)?
Anwesha Reddy: I must thank my parents for making my childhood very eventful and fun. My parents introduced me and my brother to various activities outside school. We used to take part in different tournaments and competitions, and while doing this, I discovered squash. But, becoming a professional squash player was never in my plan. I first started playing squash, and then began training regularly and winning tournaments. This led to my selection in the Indian team which led to everything else. All this made my parents feel very happy and proud, but, of course, they also went through a lot of tension and stress during my matches.
PC: Squash isn’t the most popular sport in India. So, what made you choose it?
AR: Yes. it’s true that squash even now is not a very well-known sport. Coming to what made me take up squash, it all started when I was studying in probably class five. I came across a flyer which said that a squash school coaching camp is being started at the India Cements Squash academy. It was around that time the squash academy was set up in Chennai and coaches were being appointed. So, I think it was more like destiny.
PC: How was your experience of playing for and representing your country? What was the most memorable moment of your sporting career?
AR: There have been so many close matches, so many misses and wins. But one that is very dear to my heart is the fiercely contested U-19 National finals. It was a big event and I started feeling the pressure building up. So, for the first two games, I wasn’t able to move around and play well. But, in the third game, I realised that it was the fear of loss which was not allowing me to play well. At that point, I told myself that I just wanted to play the best squash I could. And, from that point on, I started playing well and turned the match around. I won the match 3–2 and became the youngest Junior National Champion.
PC: Tell us about the ways your parents extended their support for your sports career?
AR: When a person achieves something, it’s never just an individual effort, it’s the result of the entire support system. My parents are responsible for a huge part of my success. For me to begin training at 6:00 a.m., they would wake up by 4:30 a.m. to prepare and pack my food. They also had to plan the finances and all the nitty-gritty details—all this while they were working. And, this wasn’t just for a day or two, it was an everyday routine for a few years. So, yes, their support is immeasurable and immense in this journey of mine.
PC: If you weren’t playing squash, what would you have been doing?
AR: Hmm... a very tough question, I would definitely have been playing some sport…maybe a more popular one. In fact, I think I would have been playing badminton.
PC: Training as a professional, playing at the highest level and managing your studies – how did you do all these together?
AR: Yes, that did require some effort. I utilised the free time I got in school to finish my homework as I knew I wouldn’t have much time on my hands after school. Actually, I would say that playing squash helped me plan, focus and study better. Also, my school was very supportive — I missed classes, but I made it up with help from my friends, teachers and parents. But, once I got into class X, I began attending tuitions. Looking back, I can say that balancing sport and school is certainly doable.
PC: If you were to choose the most important lesson your parents taught you, what would that be?
AR: The conversation I remember most vividly is one I had with my dad. As a child, I wasn’t able to take defeat very well. I would fling my racquet and throw tantrums. After one such incident, my dad sat down with me and explained that winning and losing was a part of life, that squash was just a sport, and that life was full of ups and downs. He helped me understand that enjoying the game and playing it to the best of my ability was important.
PC: Do you draw your inspiration from someone or something?
AR: Yes… I do see motivational videos and read positive quotes as well. I like reading about the path people take to reach their goals. I admire the resilience Roger Federer displays even when things aren’t going well for him. Such stories and individuals inspire me.
PC: One piece of advice that you would like to share with our readers…
AR: My message to parents is to allow their children to engage in at least one activity apart from studies, like playing a sport or attending a special class. Childhood, I feel, is the best time to develop an individual’s skill. Even if not professionally, sport helps and teaches you a lot in life.
PC: Your goal in life…
AR: Right now I would say the goal is to get back to squash and compete again.
ParentCircle wishes Anwesha Reddy a strong comeback!
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