Dubai: “Fulfilment in three years.” That’s how 15-year-old Ishan Malani sums up his sporting career as one of the most-talented squash players in the UAE at the moment.
A student at the Gems Wellington Academy in Dubai Silicon Oasis, Malani started playing squash some three years back “more out of a curiosity than a sport” at the family residence court in Downtown Dubai. “At first I was not all that interested in squash,” Malani told Gulf News. “I didn’t know too much about it either, so it was just another activity for me. But gradually I started seeing the positives in the game, and how it was moulding me into a player and a person
“There is the speed involved. There is the mental aspect of the game that interests me, and then there is the challenge that is always before me, be it on court or outside it, and that keeps me going.”
That initial interest translated into specialised training sessions, first with former world No. 7 and famed coach Abbas Khan, followed by his current coach Faheem Khan at Al Nasr Leisureland. But success didn’t come immediately. “I was losing to almost everyone I played, but that only made me dig into myself and see how I could be better with each passing day,” Malani said.
With father Amit backing up the entire process with daily viewing of videos and breaking down his game, the youngster flourished. Last week, he returned with three trophies from the Abu Dhabi Squash Open — the boy’s Under-17 along with Division 2 and 3 honours.
“I have put in a lot of hard work to be where I am Malani said. But that doesn’t mean that I start taking things easy. I have started to put in a lot of extra effort understanding my sport. I want to be inch-perfect with everything I do starting with my fitness, my stamina, shot selection and shot execution with the ultimate goal of being the best.
“I want to perfect each and every aspect of my game before I start looking towards bigger challenges in the not so distant future.”
First up on the international circuit could perhaps be the US Junior Open Squash Championship coming up in December followed by stops in Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain in 2020. “My aim is to top my commitment to my sport. I know I have the gift and the mindset of a champion, and at the same time I don’t want to put myself under any sort of pressure,” Malani said.
“This is the career I want and this is what I am preparing myself for in the future. It’s definitely not going to get any easy as the academics pile on. I am convinced that I have the talent and the game to make it big, and I am prepared for the journey ahead.”