Ramit Tandon’s title triumph at the Abu Dhabi Squash Open last week, where he stunned top seed Omar Abdel Meguid of Egypt, is a continuation of a remarkable tale of a youngster who decided to give up a successful career in finance to follow his dream.
Ramit Tandon was living the American dream. He had graduated from Columbia University and was working as a hedge fund analyst in New York. The 24-year-old enjoyed his job of charting the performances of the stock market and looked set to steadily climb the corporate ladder. The Wall Street provided plenty of excitement, with the fortunes of the companies fluctuating every moment. It was like a gripping game of squash — his favourite sport — with its twists and turns, and possibilities of stirring comebacks and sudden upsets.
Ramit had been one of the top junior players in India before he gave up the sport to pursue his studies. So after work and on weekends, he headed for the squash courts, spending hours with his racquet, far away from the world of fed rates, GDP and crude oil prices. The competition was intense and at times many of the professional squash players would turn up.
Thankfully for him, New York had an active squash community with members drawn mainly from the world of banking and finance. There were several big events sponsored by the finance companies and Ramit was soon making waves. He also got an opportunity to train with Ramy Ashour, former world number one and three-time World Open champion. It reignited the passion in him to get back to squash and pursue the sport seriously. He decided to quit his job to become a professional player.
Ramit started with a ranking of 400 in 2017 and within a year he has leapfrogged to 65 with three PSA titles to boast of. "It was not an easy decision to give up my successful career but I did not want to regret that I did not follow my first love. I can always go back to a career in finance once I am done with squash. But I could not have gone back to competitive squash if I had continued working in the hedge fund," says Ramit, whose next big challenge will be the British Open and the Asian Games.
Ramit’s maiden PSA title was the SYS Open in Southampton which was followed with the Singapore Open. Though he has been making a habit of upsetting higher-ranked opponents, one of his biggest giant-killing act was beating former world number three Ali Farag of Egypt in the qualifying round of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions. It made everyone sit up and take notice of Ramit, who at that stage, had not turned professional.
“It has hardly been a year that I have turned professional. So I do not have any fixed targets in mind. For me, this is the phase where I am looking to gain experience. I am still preparing the body and my mind to withstand the rigours of the professional circuit which involves living out of the suitcase,’’ adds the Kolkata-born player.
According to national squash coach Cyrus Poncha, Ramit was a prodigious talent at the junior level. “At the Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 level, Ramit was one of the very best talents we had in India. But compared to the other players in his age group, he was very short and was a major disadvantage. Thankfully, there was a growth spurt later and he caught up with his peers. Though he moved to the US, we were in touch and he kept himself abreast of what was going on in the world of squash. At this stage of his career, the more matches he plays in the professional circuit, he will get better because he will gain experience by playing against the very best in the world,” feels Poncha.
Life can be lonely at professional circuit with big-match pressures, frequent travelling in different time zones and staying far from the family. “I normally exchange notes and take advice from Sourav Ghosal, since he has been part of the professional circuit for over a decade,’’ says Ramit. Ghosal is currently the highest ranked Indian in the circuit, placed 13th, and both of them received their initial coaching at the Calcutta Squash and Racket Club.
"I am looking ahead to the Asian Games where India will have a bright chance of a medal. Our toughest opponents will be Malaysia and Hong Kong. I will be focussing on preparations for the Asian Games and will undergo a preparatory camp in Chennai in lead-up to the big event," Ramit says.
With Ramit's stocks as a squash player on the rise, his decision to trade his career in hedge funds for the professional circuit seems to be the correct move.
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Updated Date: May 13, 2018 15:30:19 IST