Kush Kumar is a professional Squash player and has been the junior national champion nine times. Kumar is the only Indian to win bronze in the world junior championship. Graduating from Trinity College with a Political Science degree and minor in Urban Studies, Kumar is currently working at Hedge fund in Boston, US. We caught up with him to hear about his journey through the sport.
Zushan Hashmi: Tell me a little bit about your life outside of squash such as your hobbies and activities.
Kush Kumar: I started playing squash, at a very young age, so I was in love with the game right away and the only thing I did growing up was complete, but recently I discovered I love reading books and my all-time favourite thing to do is swim.
In India, squash is not the first game that comes to mind. How did you start playing the game?
I used to swim before squash, at the same club there were two squash courts and I didn’t know what it was so I tried it one day and liked it, but I never thought I would play this sport as a professional, but here I am and I love to compete.
You were only a teenager when you won the Gold Medal at the 2014 Asian Games alongside India’s top men’s players such as Saurav Ghosal. How did that set you up for your future career?
It was definitely a great experience at the Asian Games in 2014, seeing all the senior players compete for gold medals, but what was extraordinary was to win a gold medal in my first Asian Games. This was something very special and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
It motivated me so much that after this I also started playing full-time at the PSA and I also got some good results.
It was also the first time an Indian men’s player won a World Individual Championship medal, tell me about that experience?
At that time I enjoyed the feeling, but that year I wanted to win the World Junior Championship. Unfortunately, I had to go home with the bronze which was also fine but I wasn’t competing to get a bronze medal.
I got to know after that event that nobody from India ever won a medal at the World junior championship so it became more special. I hope Indian players will break my record or even go higher than me as that will make me even more proud.
In 2014, you also reached your highest-ranking ever of 89, tell me a little bit about how you got there, and what it was like to break into the Top 100?
When I won my first PSA title in Australia, I was ranked 300 if I am not wrong, but after I won this I started thinking what is my next target. My coach said let’s set up for top 100 first and within 18 months I could see I was close to breaking into top 100.
It was definitely a great experience at the Asian Games in 2014 seeing all the senior players compete for gold medals but what was extraordinary was to win a gold medal in your first Asian games.
I finally did in the 20th month which was really fast I guess, but that wasn’t enough for me I wanted to go even higher. However, due to some personal reasons, I had to move to the US for higher studies. To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the top 100 as that wasn’t my goal.
More recently, you graduated from Trinity College, congratulations! It’s a school renowned for its squash, tell me a little bit about your education there?
Firstly, it was a great decision for me when I went to Trinity. I would say Trinity College taught me so much in four years and I started thinking about life in a different way from how I used to before, which is great.
I loved every minute of my time at the Trinity Campus and I miss it now. Trinity squash men’s squash team is not just a team, it’s a family with different backgrounds and diverse people. By far, the best decision of my life.
And how about the school’s squash team? What has that been like for you? (Beating the Harvard team, etc.)
It was a great experience winning the national championship for Trinity and obviously training with the coach, Paul Assaiante. I hope we will win many more nationals in the coming years.
When you’re a captain of the team there are a lot more responsibilities on your shoulders than just winning your match.
You also captained the team. Tell me what that role involves?
It was an honour to be captain of the Trinity men’s squash team. I loved every aspect of it. As I said before, our team is very diverse and there were ups and downs, but that’s what makes you mature.
When you’re a captain of the team there are a lot more responsibilities on your shoulders than just winning your match. I had to make sure all the players were getting equal opportunities and improving in every training session rather than just trying to improve myself.
Even on some days when I don’t feel like training, I still have to train or physically be there to make sure everyone is training hard.
It’s just not about the title of captain, there are a lot of responsibilities which I had, to take care of our team.
Now that you’ve ended your time at Trinity, what are the next steps?
Right now, I work in a hedge fund called Matrix Capital Management, LP which is based in Boston.
I am enjoying every aspect of it and learning new things every single day. We have a great team and everyone here truly cares about each other. Can’t be happier to be part of the Matrix team.
And what can we expect from you in the future, regarding squash?
Regarding squash, no comments. If I decide to play in the PSA full-time, I will make sure I give it 200% of my time and dedication. So everyone out there will know.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I would love to see all the Indian squash players do well in Juniors & in PSA.