Pune’s number one Arnaav Sareen shows the way to excel on court and in classroom

Balancing one’s sporting and academic career is a challenge that many teenagers face. Often, students during their high school and junior college fail to devote the adequate amount of hours towards the sport they are passionate about while also not get their minds off their books. However, the city’s 15-year-old squash champion Arnaav Sareen appears to be excelling at both aspects of his life.

Recently, the Indian under-17 number two participated in the under-19 age group and managed to win the Maharashtra Squash Rackets Association’s (MSRA) 1st Maharashtra closed squash championship 2019 despite being unseeded at the start of the competition.

To make things more remarkable, the 15-year-old has also done a fantastic job on the academic front, securing an impressive 97.2 per cent score in his ICSE Class 10 board examinations.

By doing so, Sareen has busted the myth that academics and competitive sports cannot go hand in hand.

Talking about his achievements, the St Mary’s graduate said, “I am proud of my achievements but it was really tough as I had two back-to-back tournaments a week before my boards began. So, I knew I couldn’t stay away from my books even though I trained rigorously every day.”

Prior to his boards, Sareen lived an intense lifestyle where he spent eight hours in school and three hours on the court from Monday to Friday. On weekends, his training times spanned up to five hours over the afternoon and evening sessions, leaving him very little time to do anything else apart from squash and his academics.

However, it was something he had signed up for and he treated every day as a challenge that he enjoyed, which in turn helped him to improve not only in his game and knowledge but also shaped his personality and made him a more responsible and punctual person as a whole.

He also spoke about the important role his parents played in making the player he is today.

According to him, he would not have made it to the top without their backing and he is forever in their debt for the endless sacrifices they’ve made for him over the years.

He also stated that his school has played a great role in giving him all the support he needed to continue playing all the tournaments possible, even though it came at the cost of him missing a few lectures.

“I think the support and backing I have received from my parents has been imperative. I don’t think it would have been possible without them. My dad and mom travel with me wherever I go for tournaments and are there with me all the time for moral support. All they’ve asked me is to balance both squash and my academics and I think I’ve managed to do that,” said Sareen.

The India number two has all the tools at his disposal to go on and become the country’s next big thing in the racket sports circuit, but as of now, he continues to remain coy on whether or not he will be playing professionally once his academics are done.

To be on the safer side, he will be taking up Science stream for his junior college and will take things as they come after that, giving himself two years to think about his future.

When quizzed about what he ideally plans to do should he pick one of the two (sports and academics), he stated, “I’ve always had an inclination towards computers so I want to do computer engineering. Although, I never plan to stop playing squash. I have consulted a few players who’ve managed to balance their playing career and their studies so I’m hoping to do the same.”

First Published:
May 15, 2019 16:31 IST

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