TEMS student qualifies for British Junior Open

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By Akshita Joshi, Staff Reporter

Thump! The ball bounces off the wall, hitting the two opposing players’ rackets in a fierce, rhythmic battle for the point. One player, dressed in a bright orange shirt and green Nike shoes, swings his racket back and hits the ball with all of his might, causing it to rocket off the wall where his opponent can’t reach. The point goes to Rishi Srivastava.

 Srivastava, an eighth-grader at TEMS, recently qualified for the British Junior Open, becoming the first in the T/E School District to ever compete. The British Junior Open, one of the most prestigious junior squash tournaments in the world, will be held in Birmingham, England from Jan. 6-9, 2020. 

To qualify, each player must be one of the top five players in his or her respective age category. Srivastava is within the national top five in the Boys Under 15 (BU15) category. He will represent Team USA, competing against squash players in his age group from around the world.

Srivastava was introduced to squash by his parents when he was 9 years old. Although he loves the sport now, Srivastava dreaded going to practices at first and wanted to quit.

“My parents would have to drag me to clinics and practices almost every time just for me to try it out,” Srivastava said. 

In order to prepare himself for upcoming competitions, Srivastava trains on a regular basis. When he has a  match the next day he  makes sure to incorporate a cool-down into his workout in order to get mentally prepared and         stay relaxed.

Qualifying for the British Junior Open required a lot of intense effort. Srivastava trains for 14 hours a week, working with a structured and challenging regimen. He has been preparing to qualify for this tournament since the summer, pushing himself harder every day.

“I need to have a positive and solid mindset walking into every practice with the intent and purpose to maximize performance,” Srivastava said.

Josh Simon, his coach of two years, said that overall, he is making Srivastava improve his technique and form to ensure a successful tournament.

“I always tell Rishi, in order to be great, he has to work hard, be attentive, be a student of the game, have heart and to have fun,” Simon said.

Srivastava maintains his drive and motivation for squash by keeping one ultimate goal in mind — to be a national champion and play squash professionally one day. He draws inspiration from professional players like Mark Talbott and older peers, who have valuable experience he can learn from.

“I want to do everything in my power to be the best version of myself so that I will not regret putting in the maximum amount of work into the sport,” Srivastava said. “I love everything about the sport, whether it’s the technical, physical or mental aspect.”