Indian-American wins US Open junior Squash Championship

New York: In a proud moment for the Indian community, 10-year old Ayush Menon has won the 2011 Junior US Open Squash Championship, becoming the first Indian-American to take home the title in the boys under-11 category.

New Jersey resident Menon defeated Omar El Torkey of Egypt in a five-set match at the prestigious tournament held at Harvard University in Cambridge from December 17-20.

Considered the biggest junior squash championships in the world, the US Open Squash saw participation of around 700 players from over 25 countries this year.

"It was a proud moment for all of us," Ayush`s father Ullaas Menon, an investment banking executive at Wall Street, said.

Ayush was knocked out of the championship last year and had not even made it to pre-quarter finals.

"I saw him swallowing his tears then. This time he gave it all he had as it was the last year for him in the under-11 category," Menon said.

Ayush has been playing squash for over two years now. His father has been his coach and mentor.

"Ayush started out by hitting a ball that we had hung in our garage, honing his hand-eye coordination, agility and technical skills," Menon said.

He did not train under a professional coach and instead practised his shots with the help of a ball machine that his father later bought for him.

He trains for about two hours everyday, playing other sports like basketball, soccer and swimming that help him improve his stamina, agility and muscle strength.

"Squash is more about brain than brawn," Menon said adding that he has always told his son to focus on technique and strategy while playing the game and not just think about hitting the ball.

Ayush is currently ranked number 1 in the under-11 category.

He will turn 11 next year and will be playing in the under-13 category.

On his radar is now to play more championships across the world to be exposed to more competition. He plans to play at the British, Dutch and German open championships next year.

In the under-13 category, he would be ranked in the top 20 in the US based on his scores from the previous tournaments.

Ayush is keen on representing the US against Canada, for which he has to be ranked among the top six.

An outstanding student in school, Ayush also plays the flute, keyboard and drums. Studies however still are the main priority in the Menon household.

"Ayush finishes his homework in school or at the squash courts because otherwise he knows he will not be allowed to play," Menon says with a laugh.


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