Ramit Tandon Makes a Splash at Squash Tourney

It was the first pro tournament for Tandon
Mohamed Nabil, S.Y.S.’s resident squash pro, was flanked by the $5,000 pro tournament’s winner, Ramit Tandon, and the runner-up, Kush Kumar, following Sunday’s final. Jack Graves

Ramit Tandon, a Columbia University graduate who left Wall Street for the pro tour recently, swept through the S.Y.S. Open squash tournament this past week, defeating a fellow Indian, Kush Kumar, a member of Trinity College’s national-championship team, 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 in Sunday’s final.

It was the first pro tournament for Tandon, who trains in New York City with Ramy Ashour, a three-time world champion. 

Kumar, a Trinity sophomore who has had to mix squash in with exams lately, said afterward that he was “nervous,” and had gone for winners too early, though Tandon, who moved effortlessly from the back wall to the front and from side to side, didn’t give his fellow countryman any room to breathe, mixing spanked rail shots with angled boasts just above the telltale, and repeatedly lifting what appeared to be ungettable dinks at the front wall into high crosscourt lobs that died in the back corners.

In all, Tandon, who is from Kolkata and captained and played number-one for Columbia, from which he graduated two years ago, dispatched six opponents at the Southampton Recreation Center’s Elmaleh-Stanton courts last week.

Smart Squash, for whom S.Y.S.’s resident pro, Mohamed Nabil, works, put up a $5,000 purse for the event. It was the first time Nabil had been a tournament director, and the first pro tourney for Tandon, who received $902. Kumar, who is ranked 162nd in the world at the moment, and who will try to move up into the top 100 in Australian summer tourneys, received $617.

 “I beat him in India’s selection trials in 2014, but he’s better now,” the 20-year-old Kumar said of the 24-year-old Tandon. 

  Indeed, Tandon, with his superb racket control and effortless movement, looked as if no one would be able to beat him Sunday.

 When it was observed afterward that he had made maybe one mistake the entire match, Tandon said, “Maybe a couple.”

  For his part, the 25-year-old, Egyptian-born Nabil, who is trying to spread the word here about what he rightly calls an “exhilarating sport,” was very pleased with the way the tournament, which included beginner and advanced amateur draws as well, had gone. “I hope we can have an even bigger and better one in the near future,” he said.

  Nabil, who is ranked 300th in the world at the moment, did himself proud as a player too, upsetting the top seed, Shahjahan Khan, in five games in the round of 16 — a match that took 85 minutes to play. Khan is the world’s 115th-ranked player. Nabil went on to lose in the quarterfinals to Tim Brownell, Harvard’s number-two, who is the U.S. Open champion — a match that took 93 minutes to play. As a result of his quarterfinal finish, he would earn 35 Professional Squash Association points, Nabil said in answer to a question.

The advanced amateur tournament was won by Cameron Burton, an 18-year-old Sag Harborite, who defeated Vinny Moore three games to one in the final. Mickey Begel-Clausen of Southampton won three straight from Sonny Kilfoyle in the beginners’ championship match.

One of the spectators, Jack Louchheim, a Pierson High School freshman who plays number-one on East Hampton High’s team, said, when asked what he thought of the indoor, four-walled game, “Squash is more instinctive — tennis is mentally harder. And squash is over sooner.”