Lea Van Der Zwalmen
Lea Van Der Zwalmen is currently a first year student at the University of Nottingham, reading Economics with German. She play's in the 1st Squash team for her University, as well the Queen's Club. Lea is a national Champion with her University team and hasnt lost a single match playing for Queen's Club in the London league.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPORT? (BOTH SQUASH AND RACKETS)
With Rackets, I really like the feeling I get when hitting a winner after an exciting rally. The adrenaline boost I feel is nowhere near as high as when I am on the Squash court. There are not many Rackets courts in the UK and in the world but each of them is in an amazing Club full of history, tradition and fascinating people which makes it even more special. With Squash, I enjoy using all the various type of shots to build a rally, thing which can’t be done with Rackets due to the incredibly high speed of the ball.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST FACTOR IN GETTING TO THE LEVEL YOU ARE AT NOW?
The biggest factor in getting me to the level I am at now is without hesitation the support of my family. During my junior squash career, they had to give up certain things just as much as I had to but still their support never faltered over all these years and what’s more, they were always there to pick me up when I had reached a low. One cannot be successful without a solid team and I am lucky enough to have had and still have the best team looking after me.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? (LIFE/SPORT/BOTH)
Best piece of advice that I have been given can be summed up in 3 simple phrases:
Be open – to advice and to other people’s opinions.
Be confident – in your abilities, in your judgment and in yourself.
And PLAY – always give it 100% no matter what you do.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING YOUNG RACKET/SQUASH PLAYERS?
I would encourage young players to be perseverant. Rackets and Squash are amazing sports which demand high levels of commitment and efforts. There will be ups and downs, frustration might occasionally overcome the pleasure of playing but it will all be worth it. Good things happen to those who work hard and are patient, so never quit trying!
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR WITHIN RACKETS AND SQUASH?
Highlights of my junior squash career includes the captaincy of the Ladies French U19 Team at the World Squash Junior Team Championship in 2012 and a title of French National U19 Champion in 2014. I am also the first ever Ladies Rackets World Champion since May 2015 and won the Ladies Rackets British Open in 2015 and 2016.
DO YOU HAVE AN ULTIMATE GOAL WITHIN YOUR SPORTS?
In Squash, my goal is to help my University team to win the National Team Championship every single year of my studies and thus, contribute in making Nottingham University the best place in the country to study and play high level squash. In Rackets, my ultimate goal is, besides retaining my British Open and World titles for as long as I can, to help flourish the Ladies Rackets game both here in England and in the United States.
WHAT S YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO DO OFF THE COURT?
When I am not studying or on court, I love watching movies and series, discovering new music on SoundCloud, reading and spending time with family and friends.
If your interested to find out more about our Gymphlex hero, Lea, then follow her on Instagram @vdzlea for more information and updates.