Athlete of the Issue: Mehak Dey-Kohli

Shreya Wojno and Sofia Presser For this edition of Athlete of the Issue, Freshman Sofia Presser and Shreya Wojno interviewed Mehak Dey-Kohli, a freshman and member of the squash team, to discuss the rigor of Latin’s squash program, sportsmanship, and the team’s success at Nationals. [Sofia] – First off, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us! To begin, when did you start playing squash? [Mehak] – I started playing squash when I was 7 when my parents introduced the sport to me. I started playing competitively (meaning in tournaments) when I was 9. [Shreya] – You started from such a young age! What is your favorite thing about the sport? [M] – My favorite thing about squash is that although it’s a high-intensity sport, where physical and mental strength is key, squash plays the role of a savior in my life. It gives me a chance to stray away from school and alleviates my stress. Squash makes me happy and I feel that it definitely enhances my overall self-confidence and mental strength. Another thing I love is that there is this annual, professional squash tournament in Chicago called The Windy City Open, where both professional male and female squash players come in from around the world to compete. Also, this year, something especially exciting is happening because the Squash World Championships are being held in Chicago at Union Station during mid-February. [Sofia] – That’s so sweet! How do u feel about the squash program at Latin? Does it compare to the other programs you have participated in? [M] –  The Latin Squash Program is great because all of the kids who are members of the club are interested in learning and enjoy the sport. Also, everyone is extremely supportive and they are all genuine people. Our coach is also highly invested in our progress and wants us to fully enjoy the sport. I am hoping that with the amount of interest and activeness Latin’s program has, we can able to convert the club into a squash team! [Sofia] –  We hope that the club becomes a team as well! We know that you and the team competed in Nationals. How did it go? [M] – The High School Squash Championship Tournament was an amazing experience, and the Latin Squash Team won the tournament. The variety of players, with a wide range of gender, age, strength, intelligence, and skills/style of play, built a great atmosphere. Our team, specifically, was outstanding when it came to sportsmanship, support, team spirit, and determination. Everyone’s play was exceptional – the girls placed 7th in their division and the co-ed team placed 8th in their division. I was on the co-ed team which was a great experience because although my matches were tough, I was exposed to players with various skill sets and strengths. In the long run, the exposure of different players has and will continue to improve my game.   [Shreya] – Sportsmanship is really important in team sports and it’s great to hear that there was a lot of it! How many people competed on each team? [M] – For the High School Squash Championship Tournament, there were 8 guys and 9 girls competing from Latin. [Shreya] – Were nationals similar or different from what you expected? [M] – Nationals this year was definitely a different and better experience than last year. I played for the girls’ team last year as opposed to playing for the co-ed team this year, but the main difference for this year was the level of the players, the team spirit, and support. [Sofia] – Again, team spirit is something so valued in a sport! For anyone trying out squash, what are some words of advice? [M] – Some advice I would give to anyone who wants to learn about squash or wants to learn how to play is be patient and that self-confidence is key. (In my opinion, squash also helps give more self-confidence). Have self-determination, self-advocate, and most importantly, have fun! [Shreya] – Amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to see what else squash brings in your future!]]>