Juggler in Ivy League

  • Squash
  • Thursday, 20 Jun 2019

Star in the making: Malaysia’s S.Sivasangari (right) is going great guns after she started training at the Cornell University in New York since January.

National squash player S. Sivasangari has been in the United States since January pursuing her studies at Cornell University, New York, one of the Ivy League schools. The 20-year-old, who was named the Women’s Young Player of the year by the Professional Squash Association in 2018, is now coached by former world No. 1 and two-time world champion David Palmer. She caught up with StarSport’s JOASH EE DE SILVA on her time in the us.

Q: How has it been trying to balance your time as a student and a professional squash player?

A: The first few months have been tough because I didn’t know what to expect. And yes, it was definitely difficult trying to balance my studies and playing time. It mentally drains you, trying to juggle them both but I’m glad I have coped well. When I won the Racquet Club Pro-Series (in St Louis, Missouri), I felt I was on the right track and that I was still playing well and improving in certain areas of my game.

Q: Tell us more about your juggling act?

A: It depends on my class schedule. If I have classes in the morning, then I’ll only do one squash session later in the day while other days I will do two sessions with a coach or I’ll be in the gym. So depending on the number of classes, I’ll spend somewhere between two to five hours training.

Q: The universities in the US have a lot of clubs and social activities, have you joined any?

A: So far I’m sticking to squash and if I have any free time, I’ll just sleep because that’s the one thing I’m lacking.

The trainer: David Palmer is now S. Sivasangari’s coach during her stint at the US. 

Q: Cornell University is a prestigious college, how does it feel being among some of the best students in the US?

A: It’s tough because the grading system there is very different compared to Malaysia. It’s not easy but I got to maintain the results and although I don’t target a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) like many of the students there, I still want to do well. It’s also a famous university so it’s very different and can be quite stressful but I’m glad I always have my racquet with me and I can go to the courts and play to de-stress.

Q: You have been training with David Palmer, how much has that help your game?

A: His training is different from back home and it’s good to be exposed to different things. He has vast experience and I noticed that I’m progressing under him. He has been working on my volleys and taking the ball earlier and that has really worked well when I’m in tournaments.

Q: What is your favourite food there?

A: Oh, you can’t compare the food there to Malaysia. I craved for Indian and Malay food, and the first thing I had when I returned home was my mum’s cooking. I don’t really have a favourite food there as I just eat at the university’s cafe. They do have Thai, Indian and Chinese restaurants but they’re quite expensive so I don’t always go out unless it is with my friends.

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