Meet Zayd and AliMansi-Schmitt:The SquashTwins of McLean

By Sonia Schmitt

Two Mclean, Georgetown Day School fourth grade twins discovered that squash helps them stay in shape, appreciate their diverse background, make new friends, and perform better in school.
Zayd and Ali Mansi-Schmitt are from a multi-cultural McLean family that has German heritage from their mother’s side and Middle Eastern on their father’s. Sonia and Sattar met at George Washington University and settled in the DC area after their studies and the twins came along soon after. They wanted their boys to embrace lifelong sports so they would maintain a healthy DC lifestyle, and started them playing sports at a young age. Ali and Zayd began with taekwondo, gymnastics, and swimming when they were 4 years old. Their mom said “it was one of their pre-school teachers at McLean’s own

The Langley School recommended sports to help them socialize better in school .they became more confident as they learned to strengthen and control their bodies.” They added golf, tennis, and ping pong at five years, and soon the twins’ school breaks and summers were filled with sports camps. Within 3 years they found their passion for racquet sports and took a couple of years of tennis classes.

The twins tried squash at the age of eight when it piqued their curiosity as they visited the squash courts on break from their tennis class. Their dad got them an introductory lesson with Jahangir (Jay) Naseem who runs the Play Squash Academy, at the McLean Racquet Club in McLean, Virginia. Jay showed the twins how to hold a racket, hit a rubber ball, and told them some rules. The twins thought it was fun. Dr. Mansi realized “squash could be played indoors and he wouldn’t have to worry about either of them getting sunburn or not being able to play if it snowed or rained outside.” During their first year, Ali and Zayd spent four days a week practicing.
Zayd and Ali started with Washington, DC area squash tournaments and quickly realized that they needed to travel to Philadelphia and beyond to find challenging competitors for their age. They noticed that many squash players had diverse cultural backgrounds like them and the diverse school community at Georgetown Day School, where the boys have enrolled since kindergarten.

Zayd said that “it was sad that GDS does not have a squash program for our age, so it was great to find a diverse group of squash kids like us.” The boys
formed friendships with players across the country and the world. After almost 18 months of playing squash, Ali continues to advance his techniques and sportsmanship while Zayd has been improving his conditioning and flexibility. Their mom claims “they are now more focused students because of the intensity of squash.” Zayd works really hard to get good grades across all subjects because he wants to go practice. He feels “better organized and prepared for his science class activities and French lessons because of his squash practice.”
In boys under 11, Ali is ranked number 1 in the National Capital Region district and Zayd is number 2. Zayd is ranked in the top thirty for his division nationally and Ali is in the top twenty. Ali is also nationally ranked in the top 80 of the division higher than his age group.

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