Harshit Muchhal is a sports quota entrant and now the Squash Team Captain at Hans Raj College, University of Delhi. He is a IIIrd year student pursuing B.COM(H). Harshit has played a lot of tournaments around the country and outside the country, representing India. He recently bagged gold at All India Inter University Squash Championship this year.
Our correspondent Iresh Gupta got into a candid chat with Harshit, who recently also won accolades after making it to the Top 5 Squash players in India.
Iresh: When did you start playing Squash? Would you give us a brief account of your background as a player?
Harshit: I started playing at the age of 12. I tried various sports before I settled down on Squash. I played Lawn Tennis for some time seeing my father play, and then I tried Badminton for a couple of months. I then finally saw some of the seniors play squash and I really liked the sport.
Iresh: How would you explain ‘what you do’ to a stranger, as Squash is not that famous a sport?
Harshit: People sometimes ask me questions like ‘Tennis khelte ho?’, ‘Tennis nahi toh Badminton khelte ho?’ Then I tell about Squash and they throws like a million questions on me asking about it. Nowadays, I tell them I play Lawn Tennis just to save the trouble (laughs).
Iresh: How does it feel to represent INDIA at National Competitions and be in the Top 5 Squash Players of the country? Tell us about your journey.
Harshit: In my early years of Squash, I had always wondered how it would feel to represent the country. I remember waking up as early as 3AM to practice, playing 7 hours a day and sacrificing a lot. Luckily, my hardwork paid off and I got to experience things I had never imagined. For instance, once the Indian Squash team was on the plane and the flight Captain announced ‘We are happy and proud to announce that we have the Indian Squash Team on board with us today’. We all felt so proud that day.
Iresh: What’s been the best moment of your journey as a national level player?
Harshit: My entire squash journey starting from my first tournament till now has been like a roller coaster. If I had to choose one good moment, it would be when I was playing against India Rank 2 in the finals of a tournament in Mumbai and my father was watching me play. It was a crucial 55-minute match.
Although I didn’t win but my proud father hugged me tight after the match and told me how good I was. That was the real victory for me.
Iresh: You are the Captain of your college Squash Team. How well does the college facilitate the sport? Are you satisfied with the efforts of the college?
Harshit: We do not have Squash courts in our college, so in terms of infrastructure there is no support. St. Stephens has squash courts but it’s strictly for the students of the same college and therefore, I have to take my team all the way to Siri Fort, Saket to practice. Otherwise, the college is supportive and I am allowed to take leave for tournaments.
Iresh: What is a typical practice day for you like? Also as a student, are you able to manage between your sport and studies?
Harshit: A typical practice day is tougher than it sounds. Waking up early in the morning at 4AM, go run, attend classes, come back and rush to the courts. So, after 4-5 hours of good training, there’s little energy left for studies. I am not best friends with books but I’ve been doing fairly well with my studies too.
Iresh: Since India does not have any prominent names in the field of Squash as it does in sports like, say, cricket or hockey, who has been your inspiration?
Harshit: I think whoever is better than me is an inspiration. You always get to learn many things from various different players. Even a Junior Player is an inspiration who hits a particular shot exactly the way it should be played.
Iresh: Apart from playing sports, do you have any other personal interests or hobbies?
Harshit: I love dancing and I am fond traveller. Actually, Squash and various out station tournaments made me like travelling. Apart from that, I like listening to music, read a little and watch a few TV shows. I think I also did a fine job as a part of the Hansraj Dramatics Society.
Iresh: Do you see yourself taking up Squash as a career? What would be your ultimate achievement as a Squash player?
Harshit: Yes, I would definitely want to take up Squash as a career. I am training 6 days a week with a tight schedule and putting in a lot of effort to get there. I want to play with the world’s best players. However, my ultimate achievement as a squash player would be never giving up on this sport.