We caught up with Anna Serme, a Czech professional squash player who was ranked 68 in the world, as of January 2020. In this feature, she shares her journey on and off the court and the state of squash in the Czech Republic’
Zushan Hashmi: A brief introduction of yourself.
Anna Serme, born in 1991 in the Czech Republic. Diploma from classical music (classical guitar), Bachelor’s degree from Sorbonne University (Language, literature and civilization of English speaking countries).
Tell me a little bit about yourself outside of Squash? What do you get up to when you’re not on the court?
I have many interests outside of squash. I studied classical guitar (I started playing when I was 6 years old and finished Prague Conservatory when I was 22) and try to play at least a few times a week.
I am also into the design, you can check out my creations on my Instagram. And I love animals, we have two cats but I grew up in a house where we had all animals imaginable.
How did you get involved in the sport?
Squash came to the Czech Republic quite recently and there was a big boom when I was a junior. I was nine years old when the first centre for juniors opened up in my city and because my parents already played a bit at that time, I wanted to try it too.
What makes squash one of the world’s most challenging sports? And why?
It is so complex, you have to be fast and endurant, you have to be able to handle the pressure and recompose yourself in a very short time because everything happens really fast.
And of course, you have to be tactically prepared and aware of what is happening on the court.
Who are some of your all-time favourite squash players? Why?
Definitely Nicol David. She is a true legend and she is the best ambassador this sport could have imagined.
I cannot remember ever seeing her arguing with the referee. She is also very humble and friendly.
What was and is people’s perception in Czech Republic when you talk about squash? And why do you think that is? Is squash growing there?
Squash over here was very popular in the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, since then it is rather going down, even though it seems steady right now.
But our federation is trying its best to attract new players and to support professional players. It is mostly thanks to them that I can afford to keep playing.
You are married to Lucas Serme, who is also a squash player, what is that like, with managing schedules, the sport itself, and your time together?
Actually, thanks to quarantine, we’ve spent the most time together without a break we have ever had!
It gets tricky during the year, we don’t organize our tournaments according to the other one so it happens often that I come home from one and Lucas leaves the next day, or he has already left.
But we try to do as many things together as we can when we are both home and we really enjoy our time together.
What has been the highlight of your squash career? And why?
Winning my first Czech title, because I struggled so much to win it! I was in the final, three times and the last two times, before winning it. I was really very close, having several match balls in one of them.
I had to do a lot of mental work and it finally paid off in 2018 and this year I even won my second title.
What are your thoughts on squash not becoming an Olympic sport?
We had our hopes up, so many times and then we were always disappointed until I eventually became a bit numb about this issue.
It is frustrating but I think that we as a sport should channel the effort into making squash grow instead of trying to please the committee.
What would you say to young aspiring women who want to enter the squash courts and become pros?
If they are continuing from juniors, I would tell them to toughen up mentally.
It takes time to adjust for juniors, on the PSA, no one will ever give you any easy points, everyone is there to win and has worked hard for it.
But it helps you progress, you learn how to become independent and as a bonus, you get to visit great places all around the world!
What are you working towards in the future?
I am not completely sure about what I want to do after squash, but the picture is clearing up, also thanks to quarantine I have had a lot of time to think about it.