On comeback trail, Aditya Jagtap taking it one step at a time

Considering this is Aditya Jagtap's second season on the PSA world tour since his comeback, what he’s been able to do — and aims to — is interesting.

Aditya Jagtap achieved a career-high Professional Squash Association (PSA) ranking of 77 in September this year. He’s currently ranked 83 and is bound to go up, having reached the semifinal in the Chennai leg of the HCL-SRFI India squash tour (PSA Challenger tour).

“This is my third tournament of the season. And this season has just started. So, it’s been going good so far. One $10k final, one $30k quarterfinal, and one $20k semifinal. It’s been like a good, positive start,” he said after his semifinal defeat to Ivan Yuen of Malaysia at the Indian Squash Academy (ISA) on Wednesday.

“My target by the end of the year is to reach, like, the top-60 or -55, so that I get to play bigger tournaments, like the $100k events, and battle it out with the top players,”

Making a comeback

He had quit squash and worked for a corporate firm for two years before his U.S. visa expired. Considering this is only his second season on the PSA world tour since his comeback, what he’s been able to do — and aims to — is interesting.

The 27-year-old attended a boarding school in England and graduated from Cornell University in New York. He played school and university level squash all along before taking up the corporate job.

“It was good money. But I wasn’t really happy. I really missed the daily grind of it - waking up, training... the physical and mental challenge,” he said. So, leaving (the job) wasn’t the hard part. Because I was sort of really bored of the 9 (a.m.) - 6 (p.m.) job. So, I wanted to do something different. The tough part was convincing myself that I’m good enough to go again.”

He’d even been the U-19 boys’ National No. 1, having trained and played with players like Ali Farag (World No. 1), Mohamed ElShorbagy (World No. 2) and Karim Abdel Gawad (World No. 4). 

“So, these guys for the past six to seven years, all they’ve been doing is playing squash. I felt I was very far behind. So, I felt I have to work hard and try to catch up.”

Helping hand from a World Open champion

After deciding to restart, he's gone back to his alma mater Cornell University to be helped by the two-time World Open champion David Palmer who had been the head coach at the University then. “He, sort of, guided me and got me restarted.”

Now, he's been training at the Barcelona Global Squash (BGS) Academy, where he says he's benefiting from hitting with a few top players there. Whenever he plays tournaments in the U.S., he's been consulting Palmer.

“I just keep setting myself targets. I've got into the top-100 now. Now, over the next year, I have to try and achieve my next target of getting into the top-60, or -55. I have to be realistic.”