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Navy with Electric green logo Open Squash

Open Squash

Mar 26th 2024

New York Kids Love Playing Squash!

Kids who love squash Featured Image

Kids from all over New York City are thriving in Junior squash programs at Open Squash, a nonprofit squash center with a mission to open up participation in the sport to everyone.

Saja Ahmed at Open Squash

Saja Ahmed at Open Squash, recently

Saja Ahmed, 9, plays at Open Squash through a charter school network, Success Academy. Her mother Nora is from Egypt, the home of Egyptian world champions like Nour El-Sherbini and Ali Farag. 

"We watched squash on the television in Egypt," Nora said. "So we knew all about the game when Saja got the opportunity to play. We got excited."

Saja loves playing the game. She's recently learned that she can hit the ball with both hands, and for fun, has started to play an amidextrous game, just like Habiba Mohamed, Open Squash coach and former world junior champion. Saja especially likes coming to play at Open Squash because she can see coaches like Habiba and her sister, Farida Mohamed, who has made the club her practice home in New York.  

"I want to get better and become a champion," she said. "I really like math and science at school, and now when we talk about how to hold the racket I can see how the angle of my arm should be a certain way. So I can apply that knowledge on the court."

Saja also especially appreciates the efforts of the coaches at Open Squash. 

"They're so dedicated to helping us improve our skills," she said. "It really helps us to focus on getting better."

Mom Nora is particularly pleased that her daughter can play alongside professionals, and meet with them at events at Open Squash. 

"That's amazing," she said. "For Saja to be able to play points with someone like Ali Farag and be inspired like that, it's something you really don't see everywhere and it makes it an inspiring place for the children to learn the game."

Thanks so much for sharing your love of the sport with us, Saja! 

Ali and Angel at Open Squash

Angel Morel on court, high-fiving World #1, Ali Farag at the FiDi Open Squash Grand Opening

Meanwhile Angel Morel, 10, has been playing for six months and loves the game, too. He plays at Open Squash through Success Academy, a charter school network, and finds the game compliments his soccer.

"I love how competitive the game is, and how fast you have to run," he said. "I'm running more now without getting out of breath and I'm hitting the ball better."

Angel also recently enjoyed coming along to an Open Squash fundraiser event where he got to hit points with men's world champion Ali Farag, and Frenchman Victor Crouin. Angel's mom Jessica Rodriguez loves to watch him play. 

"I love the facility," she said. "It's such a great place for the kids to play squash."

Angel has enjoyed getting better at the game, and enjoys filling out his progress forms to show how his game has improved. 

"He loves the game so much that we're already looking at different universities where he could play squash," said Jessica.

Best of luck, Angel! 

Jaden on court at Open Squash

Jaden on court hugging one of his fellow Junior team members

Jaden Hood, 10, has been playing squash since he was seven. A public school student in Chelsea, Jaden started playing just for fun as part of the Hudson Guild’s after school program. But now it's more than that. He just won an under-11 championship with a year to spare and he's started getting more serious about playing regularly to compete.  Jaden says he is getting "better and better at hitting the ball" and now plays four times a week. 

He began playing on the Green Team at Open Squash, which is for beginners. Now he's progressed to playing on the Blue Team, for more advanced players. He goes to clinics three times a week and then has a private lesson on Saturdays with Thaisa Serafini, one of the professionals at the club. 

"Right now I'm working on my racket preparation and my speed has also improved," he said. 

The recent tournament win has hugely boosted Jaden's confidence, said his mom, Renee Robinson. He has also learned to win by losing a few tough games and learning to "take the loss and learn from it," she said. 

"I noticed that he's been very dedicated to improving," she said. "He's also a team player. I had another parent come up to me the other day and say how Jaden helps her son out on the court and that was really good to hear." 

The tournament match went to five games, with Jaden winning the last game 11-8, by just three points. His opponent had been up two games to one, but Jaden came back to win in five. 

"Honestly, I learned from the match that I'm not at my full potential yet, and that I could do better," Jaden said.

Now he has his eyes on playing national tournaments and hopes, one day, to play squash professionally.  

Go get 'em, Jaden!