Getting to know: Jasmin Kalar

Sarah-Jane Perry and Jasmin Kalar

Jasmin Kalar, 24, was born in London and currently lives in Berkshire. She’s a part-time professional squash player, whilst she is full-time working and studying for her Master’s degree. She has a current PSA ranking of 210 (as at 8 April 24), with a HWR of 178.

Please tell us a bit about your squash journey.

My squash journey began when I was 12½ years old. My dad, despite battling a life-threatening illness, had the vision of getting my siblings and me into squash so built a mini court in our garden! A testament to his determination and love.

So, by 13, when I officially started on a regulation court, I had already logged countless hours training in the sun and rain.

I have a younger sister and brother, and my dad introduced us all to squash. (He played at a semi-professional level when he was younger). We all competed on the junior circuit and my brother is still in juniors, recently playing for England U15.

My sister was also about to turn professional, but ruptured her achilles. But she’s training hard and will be turning professional soon. We all train at Datchet & Eton / Thames Valley Athletic Centre, where my dad dedicates a lot of time to coach us. And yes, there’s naturally some sibling rivalry haha!

Who was your biggest influencer in the game?

I’d say my dad as I’ve seen him play to a very high standard. When I was younger I spent many evenings watching his matches, so this definitely inspired me.

What squash successes have you had?

As a junior I won the Berkshire Junior County Championships several times, and by the end of my junior career was ranked 12 in the country. I’d also won around 40 trophies over this period.

As a senior winning the Berkshire Women’s Senior County Championships has been a good achievement, but one highlight that stands out is winning my first Professional Satellite tournament in Sweden last October. I was seeded 4 and won 4 of my matches to win the tournament. I remember being ill during that time so was happy that I managed to pull through. I have also reached another final and several semi-finals of other Satellite tournaments.

Which current squash player do you admire the most, and why?

I do admire a lot of the current players but I’d have to say Sivasangari Subramaniam is someone I definitely admire. She recently won the London Classic beating several of the World’s top 5 players.

To have achieved this alone is amazing, but to have achieved this after what she has been through over the past few years is very inspirational. Her game is also very exciting and attacking and I am looking forward to watching her play to see what else she can achieve.

Squash requires both physical fitness and mental agility. How do you balance these aspects in your training routine?

I would say that the mental side of the game is something that I have gradually tried to develop over time, but to balance both the physical and mental side, I’d say putting myself into high pressure situations on court has helped. Also, naturally, pushing myself physically has helped my mental side of the game too.

What does your training regime look like?

I spend around 15 hours on court each week and try to aim for 1-2 gym sessions too. Although this will depend on whether I have matches or tournaments. I did do hot yoga for some time as well which I was found was super helpful for my body but also my mind, enabling me to have greater focus in all aspects of my life.

Can you walk us through your typical pre-match routine? How do you prepare yourself physically and mentally before stepping onto the court?

I like to keep busy and keep my mind occupied before playing a match so that I’m not wasting any unnecessary energy or building up any tension. If I can, I will often try to have a power nap (particularly after I have been working throughout the day).

As I’m warming up, I will try to visualise what I want to happen on the court and reinforce this positive imagery in my head. I tend to listen to music as I feel it can increase my focus and make me feel more relaxed before I step on court.

Are there any specific traits or qualities that you think are essential for success in this sport?

I think for any sport, particularly individual sports, it’s about having that determination, discipline and perseverance. It is important to have self-motivation as it can be lonely at times, but it’s about trusting the process and turning up even when you’re not feeling like it.

We’re trying to build the number of junior and senior county squash players and want more females to start playing. What advice can you give to inspire other girls and women to take up the sport?

I would say squash has played a massive role in my life and has helped me develop immensely as an individual, both personally and professionally. For example, squash has helped me develop resilience and mental toughness throughout many aspects of my life.

I have also made a number of really good friends within squash, who are some of my closest friends now. So it’s great for the social aspect too. It is also a great sport in the sense that it can be played all-year round so even in the winter months, when you can’t motivate yourself to go outside, squash is perfect as you don’t have to worry about that and can still burn a crazy number of calories!

What are your future squash goals and aspirations? Are there any tournaments or achievements you are specifically aiming for?

I would say my next goal is to break into the World top 150 and push on from there to see how far I can go. I also want to start winning more PSA Satellite tournaments, as well as progressing further into the Challenger events.

If you could play squash against any past or present player – male or female – who would it be and why?

I would probably have to say Jahangir Khan. Just to be on court with such a legend would be an amazing learning experience, even though I would probably get bagelled in every game haha!

If you could invent a new rule for squash, what would it be? How do you think it would change the dynamics of the game?

I think this was something that was trialled in the World Series finals but I think the ‘Double Point Rally’ is quite exciting and makes the game more entertaining.

So essentially, once during the game, a player can claim a ‘Double Point Rally’, in which for just that rally, if they do win it, it would be worth 2 points, instead of 1.

I think it would be great from a spectator perspective but also from a player perspective, particularly when thinking about the mental side of the game.

If you could swap roles with a referee for a day, what’s the most bizarre call you’d make during a match, just for fun?

Either award a conduct match for no reason or a no let for a blatant stroke. 😁

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