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.
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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