SETH Thong will be the favourite to win gold in the under-13 boys category at the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships in Trinidad, next month. The 12-year-old, who has lofty goals of achieving a top 100 ranking in the world, says he is ready to play in front the home crowd, including the watchful eyes of his grandfather.
Thong earned bronze in the boys Under-13 category at CASA, last year.
In a Newsday Kids interview, at the Queen's Park Squash Courts in St Clair recently, the form one St Mary's College student said he has made some strides over the past year. "(I have made) a good amount of improvement. Fitness is the main thing I have been working on."
He may feel some pressure playing at home for CASA, but Thong said he is up for the challenge. "Probably (I will feel some pressure but) yeah I think I could handle it."
He has been in top form leading up to CASA, winning two titles at the Sunshine Snacks National Junior Squash Tournament in May. "I won under-13 and under-15 in nationals. That is to get ready for CASA coming up and that (tournament) is to see who is going to make it on the team."
Thong, who runs, swims and is a member of scouts, says squash is special to him. "Squash (is my favourite), I just like the speed of the game and it helps me with my reflexes and it just gives you really good fitness. I do running to help (me with my) squash and swimming also helps with my squash."
He has been playing the sport since he was six and did not have to look far for a teacher as his grandfather, Victor Thong, represented TT a few years ago in the over-60 age category.
"We used to (play against each other), because I got better than him (we stopped)," Thong said, smiling. His younger sister Josie-Marie, nine, also plays squash.
Thong, who says former number one world ranked squash player Ramy Ashour of Egypt is his role model, is already thinking of a future in the sport and has a plan to make it possible. "I am hoping to be in the top 100 players in squash. I am hoping to go to Canada to study and I will play squash there."
Victor is proud of his grandson. "His progress has been wonderful. His approach to the game is committed and once he continues with that I will back him all the way. I will be there for him," he said.
Ryan Jagessar, one of Thong's coaches, has huge goals for the youngster at CASA. He said, "I expect him to win, he's going to be the number one seed. The other three guys who came in the top four (last year) all moved up into under-15, so he is staying down (in the under-13). He is heavily favoured, he supposed to win."