Rhamanan to turn pro

Vivian Rhamanan at the SEA Games. He will be making his PSA debut in Australia, starting with the Mackay Open on Friday.
Vivian Rhamanan at the SEA Games. He will be making his PSA debut in Australia, starting with the Mackay Open on Friday.PHOTO: SINGSOC/REUTERS

He will drop assistant national coach post at year end, hopes to land medal at 2018 Asiad

He is 29 years old, a father of two, and has to scrimp and save - but all that is not holding Vivian Rhamanan back from chasing his dream of becoming a professional squash player.

Come Dec 31, the SEA Games gold medallist in the jumbo doubles will step down as assistant coach of the national team to concentrate on training full-time and competing in Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments.

Said Rhamanan, who currently lives with his in-laws: "I'm not young, but I'm still hungry, and I am going to work as hard as I can to achieve my dreams.

"I'm grateful for the support of my family, who saw how much the game meant to me during the SEA Games.

"It was great to win a gold, but I also saw how we lacked international exposure compared to Malaysia, and that made me want to do more."

Rhamanan has already submitted a three-year plan to the Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA), which includes playing in at least 12 PSA tournaments each year and going on three overseas training trips annually. An estimated $60,000 is needed to fund his dreams.

He hopes it will culminate in a podium finish at the 2018 Asian Games hosted in Indonesia.

SSRA president Woffles Wu said: "We're excited for him, even though it's not going to be easy on the professional circuit.

"What we can do is provide him with training, but we can't really provide funds unless sponsors step forward. We'll discuss with Sport Singapore to see if they can give us some form of support, but we understand if their hands are tied."

Wu added that he hopes Rhamanan's decision will inspire budding players to go professional, adding that at least one, youngster Au Yeong Wai Yhann, has indicated an interest in following in Rhamanan's footsteps.

Rhamanan said he is already looking for sponsors to fund his dreams.

So far, he has secured $2,500 to fund a trip to Australia, where he will make his PSA debut.

Co-funding his expedition Down Under are venture capital firm Vickers Venture Partners and energy advisory and trading company Biosphere Capital.

He will compete in the Oct 30-Nov 1 Mackay Open and the Nov 5-8 Queensland Open. These tournaments fall under the PSA 5-15 category, which is for young or up-and-coming professionals. It ranks below the elite PSA World Series, which features the world's top eight players, and the PSA 25-100 tournaments.

To take part in higher-tier competitions, he will need to chalk up more ranking points.

Said Rhamanan: "I'm very grateful to my sponsors for giving me this opportunity. They were very positive, and it inspires me to do even more.

"To turn professional, you need more funds, and I will keep looking for sponsors in the meantime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2015, with the headline 'RHAMANAN TO TURN PRO'. Print Edition | Subscribe