Q&A: Maya Patel
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

As a first-year, you have really came in and made an impact on this team. How do you feel your first season of collegiate squash is going?

"I could not have asked for a better first season! I am really happy that I have been able to make an impact on the team. Compared to our competitors, our squash program is relatively new and I think we have had a great start to the season. We still have a lot of work ahead of us with some challenging matches coming up."

The team has really been on a roll this year going 6-2, including five straight wins. What has that experience been like so far?

"The past five wins have given us a lot of confidence with momentum building up for the remaining matches. We are eager to improve our intercollegiate ranking from last year. This season we have surprised many of our opponents and had our first Ivy League win. This is a developing program and for me the real reward is achieving success through building the team. It makes every win even more gratifying."

What is the biggest difference you’ve notice in collegiate competition?

"We are competing on a different level altogether. The psychological aspect of squash plays a bigger role in collegiate competition than it did in juniors.  At the collegiate level racquet skills, fitness and mental strength are more important. Squash is not only a test of fitness but also strategy and mental agility. Everyone on the team has to work hard since every match counts."

What’s the best part about playing squash to you?

"The best part about playing squash at Columbia is the team aspect. Squash is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. My motivation comes from my teammates and coaches. They make squash even more enjoyable, and I find it is a good balance with my academic schedule."