When it comes to talking about his favorite sport, 11-year-old Myles Niemasz is wise beyond his years.
“I like the people,” he said. “It’s not like the other sports where you play across the net from your opponent. In squash, you’re right next to each other.”
He also likes the strategy and the chance to hit a ball as hard as he can.
“I love tournaments best,” he added.
Niemasz, of Edina, was in Eden Prairie last week taking part in Boast Squash’s youth camp.
He started playing last September and plays almost every day.
“My mom and dad played tiny bits in college,” he said. “When my dad got back into it, he pulled the whole family with.”
His favorite opponent is his younger brother.
“He’s a hard player to beat,” he said. “He’s small but runs around super fast.”
How does he fare against his mother?
“She’s really into it,” said Niemasz. “She crushes me and my brother.”
Like Niemasz, 14-year-old Arhan Chandra started playing squash for fun.
“I started playing when we were living in England,” said the rising Minnetonka High School freshman. “I tried all the other sports, rugby, field hockey, cricket, soccer and track and field, but liked squash best. It’s friendly, but incredibly intense.”
Chandra’s goal is to become a professional squash player.
“I was ranked No. 4 in my age group in the UK,” he said. “In the U.S., I’m No. 7.
“I’ve only played in seven tournaments,” he added, “but I took out the No. 1-ranked player. That’s why I’m ranked so high.”
In college, Chandra wants to play squash at an Ivy League school.
His squash talents could make that happen.
“I’ve been to camps out east,” he said.
“There’s a tiered professional squash series,” said Boast Squash President Todd Iliff. “The minor tier is for players ranked 75 to 100 and up. The purses are between $5,000 and $10,000. The second tier, with purses ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, is for players ranked in the top-50.
“The top tier,” he added, “is for players ranked in the top-30. There, the purses range from $50,000 to over $100,000. The top players are also earning endorsements.”
As an aside, the best players in the world currently hail from Egypt. Great Britain, the birthplace of squash, also produces good players, as does France and Germany.
The top U.S. men’s player (Todd Harrity) is ranked No. 46. The top U.S. female (Amanda Sobhy) is ranked No. 8.
“Amanda Sobhy is the most popular squash player in the country,” said Iliff.
Shoby Gul is the lead professional at Boast Squash.
In his pursuit of being a professional squash player, he peaked at No. 106. As a youth, he was the No. 1-ranked junior in both Singapore and Pakistan.
Before moving to the United States, he served as the National Elite coach of the Malaysian National Squash Team.
He coached in Virginia before Minnesota.
While Minnesotans don’t play squash like they do out on the East Coast, Gul said they would if given the chance.
“Play it one time,” he said, “and you’ll play it again, again and again.”
When asked of the benefits to squash, he talked of focus.
“Focus and discipline,” he said. “That means keeping your mind, and eyes, on the ball. That translates to other things too.”
“If you took a 45-minute lesson,” he said, “you’d burn 800-900 calories.
“Look it up,” he added, “In terms of intensity, the only sport that beats squash is boxing.”
At camp, players like Niemasz and Chandra aren’t thinking about burning calories, they’re thinking about playing squash. They’re thinking abut their next shots and not their last. Gul can relate.