Yuvraj Wadhwani is one of the brightest stars in the world of squash. The 16-year-old is ranked 4th in the Boys U17 category and is only the 2nd Indian to win the Asian Junior Squash Championships. The four-time Junior national champion also scored an incredible 97.8% in his ICSE Board exams and finished 3rd at the British Junior Open World Championships Birmingham BU13 in 2019.
In this exclusive interview, Yuvraj Wadhwani shares with Man’s Life his dreams of representing India at the Olympics, the role of his parents in his journey, and his tips for up-and-coming athletes in the country.
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Q: What drives you to get up in the morning and go to training every day?
I am extremely passionate about squash. Hitting the ball against the wall is fun and challenging at the same time. Also, with handwork comes results and that is another big factor that keeps me going.
Q: What are your dreams as a squash athlete, what is the one end goal you wish to achieve in your career?
Not only would I like to represent India at the Olympic games but (I want to) win a medal too. That would be the one goal I would like to achieve. I really hope squash makes it to the 2028 Olympic games.
Q: What are your interests outside of sport? How do you relax?
I like to listen to music or swim when free. Music is one thing that relaxes me. I usually wake up and wind down with music as well.
Q: How do you balance growing up and having a ‘normal childhood’ with being a professional athlete?
It is hard. I do miss a lot of fun activities with my friends. But they are extremely understanding and supportive and I am really thankful for that. Being an athlete comes with some sacrifices and I understand that. I have missed a lot of birthday parties, family functions too as a child, but I am ok with that because the thrill of the game and winning is fun too.
Q: Was your education always equally important to squash while growing up?
Yes, it is. My mum is a doctor and my dad is an engineer and therefore education kind of runs in the genes. Luckily, I have managed to balance both. I scored a 97.8% in my board exams. My school, Bombay Scottish, have been extremely supportive and that has really helped me strike a balance between both.
Q: What role have your parents played in your meteoric rise as a squash player?
They have been extremely supportive. Had it not been for them all this would not be possible. In fact, I started playing squash with my dad just for fun. I was a competitive swimmer before that, but squash was what I enjoyed more. My parents take turns to travel with me. Even my grandmother who is a doctor travels with me to enable me to do my best.
Q: How do you cope with the mental pressure of competing at a major tournament at such a young age?
It’s very very tough. Everyone wants to win a big tournament but it’s the player who is in a better mental space that wins that day. Some days are easy and the shots fall in place but other times it’s not that great. It is then back to the drawing board and learning from mistakes.
Q: Do you have any advice to young athletes looking to start a career in sports?
It may seem difficult at first because you start right from the bottom. But keep going and the hard work will pay off. Representing the country and wearing the ‘INDIA’ t-shirt is an honour and makes you feel pride like no other.
Q: How does it feel after winning the BU17 title in Rajasthan?
It feels great. I haven’t played many tournaments on the Indian circuit since my board exams got over, as I was playing overseas. Therefore, this win means a lot to me, and I hope it’s the start of many more to come.