Viney Singh had a childhood that's the stuff of a good children's book, especially since life was in the midst of greenery for him. With his father working at tea plantations in Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, his childhood was filled with outdoor activities. “Taking to sports was the normal thing to do. I had a natural flair for the racquet and that meant playing squash and tennis from the time I was 10 or 11,” he says. And his love for the court lasted all through school and even through graduation from Loyola College, Chennai.
“My love for tennis took off just watching the Amritraj brothers, who were alumni and lived across the road,” says the 58-year-old, who is currently Fabindia’s CEO. With age and work, tennis became a little difficult and by the time Singh was 40, his interest in squash was reignited. “That’s usually the age when people start looking at more docile options, but I decided to go with squash. More than anything else, it was the frequent rain disruptions and as an indoor sport it was a more reliable option,” he says.
Today, he plays squash about two to three times a week, with each session lasting for about an hour. The venue varies, depending on his travel but he prefers the Bangalore Club, Delhi Gymkhana Club or the courts in The Lodhi hotel. He has a set of buddies who double up as squash partners and there is a serious motivation when it comes to playing the game. “It’s great to end the day with a game and a drink with them,” he says with a smile.
Squash is a strenuous sport and Singh says it can be played only after attaining a basic level of fitness. “It’s not a good idea to play squash to get fit,” he explains. Other things to look out for include keeping one’s weight in check and never entering the court without a quick warm-up and stretches. According to him, squash is an ideal combination of a physical and mental workout. “It helps one to unwind completely. Squash is very addictive and results in withdrawal symptoms during forced breaks when one is down with an injury,” Singh states.
With time and age, Singh’s approach to the game has changed. When he plays against youngsters, it revolves around strategy and it is not so much about energy. “When I turned 50, I moved from playing competitive club level squash to the national circuit age group events,” he says. A high point has been winning the Indian national squash championship twice in my age group. “When I am not playing the game, I watch a lot of it on YouTube,” he adds.
Regardless of where he is, the basic squash paraphernalia — shoes and racquet are a part of his luggage. Close to two years ago, he was at work in Johannesburg, when he stumbled upon a squash complex close to his hotel. “I saw the complex and I couldn’t help but resist it, so I ended up playing a few games even there,” Singh signs off. Surely, the game needs a lot of stamina, but when it comes to busting stress, nothing like a quick game of squash for this CEO.