Guyana’s ace squash professional, Nicolette Fernandes, Greek Open champion and Swiss Open runner-up in 2009, cannot stop thinking of life beyond sport. At 33, it seems inevitable that the former Central American and Caribbean Games champion and a Guyanese Sportswoman of the Year prepares for life beyond squash.
Besides her titles and journey in squash, which saw her rise to world No. 19 at her peak, she will recall her tryst with a knee injury that kept her out of the sport for as many as 23 months. When she returned to the court, her ranking dipped to 249. With determination and passion, she staged a comeback and is now world No. 33.
“Squash has helped me develop a great work ethic and I think I can do anything once I am done with the sport,” says 33-year-old Nicolette Fernandes, showcasing the fact that sport helps instill a sense of discipline and self-belief in an individual.
Training is not boring for Nele Gilis
Belgian Nele Gilis, 20, loves playing the sport and enjoys training to the fullest. “Squash is very physical. You have to improve speed, strength, agility, mobility, everything. So, training is not boring at all. Every day, it is something different,” says Nele Gilis.
All professional players can be seen playing an imaginary match during training since shadow or ghost training is an important part of training in squash. It simulates shot-making and on-court movement and helps in a better overall understanding of oneself in a match situation.
Yoga, runs and proteins for Millie Tomlinson
Regular exercise helps maintain a good physical condition for the rigours ahead. “I do a lot of work on my fitness in the summer, go for long runs and conditioning. I do a bit of yoga and mobility as well to take care of my body after the exercise regimen,” England’s 24-year-old squash professional Millie Tomlinson says.
Nutrition also plays a key role and Millie Tomlinson consumes her proteins within an hour of completing her training sessions. This greatly helps in replenishing vital nutrients to keep the body going.
Don’t ignore rest
Squash is a strenuous sport that places a great deal of importance on the fitness of the athlete. It involves intense use of both the upper and lower body. You have to be fit to play squash, as Hemant Salunkhe, Navy man and a great student of squash, points out.
His daughter, Akanksha is India’s national junior girls’ champion and is looking to step up to the senior ranks. She works out in the gym and turns in swimming sessions to build her fitness and strength.
“Rest is very important,” stresses 17-year-old Akanksha. Working out so hard can take its toll and rest aids in the recovery of muscles and keeps the athlete fresh. During the off-season, it is important to continue training but though not necessarily at the same intensity as during the season.