Winning the boys under-17 junior squash title in Ajmer recently is just the tip of veritable iceberg of Utkarsh Baheti’s hard work, determination and dedication. At times when every kid wants to be another Virat Kohli, Utkarsh at the age of eight picked the racket as his father used to play squash.
The boy was soon bitten by the squash bug and the Jaipur Club courts became his second home. Surbhi Misra, international squash star and founder of the Surbhi Misra Sports Foundation, saw the spark in him and immediately him under her wings.
Utkarsh, who wants to play for India one day, has been following a military sort of regimen to achieve his goal. He devotes two hours in morning and three hours to his squash practice and physical fitness. This is the reason why he showed no signs fatigue in his marathon five-game final.
When asked how he balances his studies and this strict trianing schedule, Utkarsh ,a student of Jayshree Periwal High School, said he was very fortunate to be in such a school where everyone is so supportive and encouraging.
“From director to principal to teaching staff have encouraged me and gave me the facility to concentrate on the game.
Surbhi Misra, his coach and mentor, feels that Utkarsh has the potential to reach the pinnacle of this game. “But he needs to keep working hard on his game and physical fitness,” she says.
Surbhi, who won the girls-17 title at the same venue about 10 years ago, says Utkarsh’s victory has come as a silver lining for the game in the state. “I am sure many more youngsters inspired by his victory will take up squash.”
She also praised Utkarsh’s parents – Rakesh and Anubha – for their patience, continuous support and devotion that helped Utkarsh reach such heights.
Sports Minister Gajendra Singh Khimsar, who himself was a squash player in younger days, presented Utkarsh the rising star award for winning under-17 title.