Satya Seshardi, Assistant Pro, Harvard Club of NYC
How did you get involved with squash?
I used to play Tennis for my club back home (Bombay, India) and they always needed juniors to represent the club for squash matches in Inter club Tourneys. A number of my close friends played squash, so I decided to give it a shot and ended up loving the game and got more involved in the sport by playing more for my Club. I was 16 when I made this switch.
Who was your first teacher?
As I picked up the game late I did not really have a coach, [though I] learned a lot from Cyrus Poncha, the current National Coach of India. My parents moved from Bombay to Chennai, so that was a big plus, as the National Training Center was/is based in Chennai. Hence, I got to play a lot with all the top players back then.
Did you play other sports?
In addition to Tennis, I played Soccer, Badminton, Cricket and Rugby to name a few!
Did you still compete?
Once I moved to Chennai I played squash full-time. We used to train 4-5 hours a day for months. It was a ton of fun as all the other national players were there as well, so playing each other and training with them was a great way for me to get better and improve my squash skills. In Chennai we hosted the World Juniors in 2002 and that motivated me to work even harder and set some goals. I decided to play more tournaments and compete harder and reached a ranking of top 10 in Men’s in India at one point. After much training the National Center was looking for a pro to help coach their Junior Development program and I decided to give it a shot. I did my level 1 coaching certification course in Chennai, and then got my Level 2 certification in KL, Malaysia. After training kids for a year or so, I decided to use my squash skills to get into colleges in the US, and enrolled at Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster (PA).
Talk about your urban squash experience.
While in college I coached the Lancaster Country Day School juniors, and I did a bunch of camps at Harvard and Dartmouth in the summers. Upon graduation I took full-time position at StreetSquash, which was a great experience. The Urban Squash community is great; everyone working in it is so passionate about their job. It was great to help kids improve their life skills and character skills— that was the major difference compared to an ordinary job. It was not all about the squash but it was more than that. All my co-workers worked very hard to see to it that kids stay in the program, graduate from High School and go to college. Some used squash as a means to get into college and that was great. Currently F&M boasts 5-6 kids who graduated from StreetSquash and are on the squash line-up.
What do you see as the keys to growing participation in the US?
I think U.S. SQUASH is doing a great job in promoting the game within the US. More courts are needed to meet future demand, but once that happens you can open up the sport to public schools and offer incentives (for physical education classes during the day to spread awareness about the sport). Also continue supporting local organizations such as the MSRA (NY) who help run the local leagues in New York City and other such organizations in various cities in the US. Adult Squash has grown a lot due to such leagues. Finally, having as many PSA/ WISPA sanctioned events as possible in the US helps make the sport popular.
Among the other’s in the US, whom do you look to as the ideal teaching pro?
I have to say my head pro, Richard Chin, is the ideal. Not to be biased, but his knowledge of the game is unbelievable and it translates to the squash court, as he still plays hard in his 40s. I try and learn as much as I can each day and apply it to my game.
Who is your favorite PSA pro to watch?
I have to go with Ramy Ashour who is a magician on the squash court. He makes the game look so easy and entertaining. His shot selection and speed is unmatched.
Do you follow any other sports?
I have become a huge NFL fan. I support the New York Giants!