A freshman from Kolkata, India, Vivek Dinodia has consistently been one of the top junior squash players in his country. He brings experience to an established Princeton squad, which starts the season ranked first in the nation. Princeton owns a 2-0 record after consecutive 9-0 sweeps over Franklin and Marshall and Drexel. The Tigers are looking to repeat as national champions after last year’s upset victory over Trinity in the finals. Dinodia won his collegiate debut in the No. 8 position, defeating Dylan Cunningham of Franklin and Marshall, 11-4, 11-13, 11-3, 11-3.
Q: Your teammates know you as “The Magician.” How did you get that nickname?
A: Well, in my player profile I made the mistake of writing that I enjoy magic, and the name just stuck with me. And also, the kind of game I play I end up hitting a lot of “magical” shots. Guess it was meant to be.
Q: What exactly is a “magical” shot?
A: It’s when I fake swing my racket for a forehand, and the opponent goes entirely one direction, and I end up playing a backhand to the other side. Creds to [professional squash player] Jonathon Power.
Q: Who is your favorite freshman on the men’s team?
A: I don’t have a favorite, but I can tell you who the worst freshman is ... I am the worst freshman. It’s an inside team joke!
Q: Which upperclassman are you most afraid of?
A: [Senior] Casey Cortes [of the women’s squash team]. She’s already [spilled on and] ruined two of my favorite shirts ... And [senior captain] Steve [Harrington]. He’s literally twice my size.
Q: How is Kolkata, India, different from Princeton? Have you had to make any cultural adjustments coming here to the States?
A: The food is different. Back home, I would eat a pizza or a burger once in a week. But out here, it’s the staple diet. And also, back home, if I said, “Hey, what’s up?” to someone I meet on the road or in school, we would actually stop and have a conversation. But out here, by the time both of us say, “Hey, what’s up?” we’re almost a mile away. Also, it’s almost a crime to hold a girl’s hand in public.
Q: How was your first home match as a Tiger?
A: It was intense. A lot of emotions. I couldn’t have felt prouder when I won my first match wearing the orange and black jersey.
Q: Have you experienced squash in such a rowdy atmosphere before?
A: Yes, I have. Junior nationals in India are very intense. There are times when supporters start trying to overpower the other player’s supporters with their voices, rather than the competition just being limited to the courts. My performance doesn’t go down if the crowd is against me. We played Yale at Yale in the Ivy scrimmages, and that was perhaps one of the best matches I’ve ever played.
Q: Are you in any extracurricular activities on campus other than squash?
A: I’m in PSAT, Princeton South Asian Theatrics. And I also plan to be in the Magic Club for obvious reasons ... I was supposed to be in the play that was shown a week back, but due to time commitments to squash, I ended up sitting out this one. I always loved acting, but squash took so much of my time in high school that I couldn’t pursue it. Hence, I thought I’d take it up again during college.
Q: If you could trade any physical attribute with one of your teammates, who would you trade with, what would you trade and why?
A: Definitely not [sophomore] Tyler’s [Osborne] ponch. I’d say [junior Dylan Ward’s] physique. His height, long arms and legs make him reach almost every ball. And that’s what we put in so many hours of training for.