University of Johannesburg squash star Kyle Maree has made a notable impact in his first year at the varsity, excelling on the squash courts as well as the lecture rooms.
A first-year economics student, the 24-year-old was recognised for his achievements by being named the UJ student-athlete of the year at their annual awards ceremony recently.
Besides being the varsity’s top player and leading UJ to a fifth straight title in the University Sport South Africa (Ussa) tournament in July, Maree achieved an academic mark of 73% for the year.
Competing against an array of top UJ sports stars, Maree said he didn’t even consider being a contender for the award.
“To be really honest I gave myself no chance because I was competing against Olympians and Paralympians,” he said.
“Winning this award really did humble me and I was truly grateful to receive it.”
Born and bred in Johannesburg, where he lives with his parents in Robertsham, Maree’s commitment to his chosen fields is as strong as his respect for the institutions he has attended.
“I tend to be really passionate about being part of a great institution. I feel inordinate pride being an old KES (King Edward School) boy and I feel the same about UJ.
“The varsity has played a crucial role for me in the classroom. The lecturers are inspirational and you can see how they love their subject. I feed off that to remain committed to my work.”
Having attended Harvest Christian School in Mulbarton before moving to KES, Maree was introduced to squash at the age of 14 by his father, who was chairman of the Southern Suburbs club.
He was delighted at what he had achieved on the court this year, representing Central Gauteng A and winning the Wits Grand Prix tournament.
“I also set myself the aim of playing in the World University Squash Championships and winning the individual and team events at the Ussa tournament, all of which I achieved.”
He said his success stemmed from the efficient organisation of the UJ Squash Club.
“We have a dedicated coach in Mike Bester and an extremely capable manager in Linly de Beer.
“Whether it is our travel arrangements, accommodation or tutoring for certain subjects, we are supported wholeheartedly and this contributes to the team dynamics.”
On the academic front, Maree said he started out “just wanting to pass”.
“But I quickly saw my potential as I started to apply myself and I far surpassed this goal.
“In business, I look up to Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world. The reason for that is because of how much of his fortune he actually gives away.
“One day I hope to become a successful businessman and to follow his example.”
When he was not involved in squash or academics, Maree said he relaxed by playing table tennis and pool.
“I also enjoy watching some television series, as well as getting outdoors and playing garden cricket with friends.
“Between studying and squash, I tend to get quite pale during the year, so any outdoor time is welcome.”
In business he has his sights set on becoming a chartered accountant, while his squash goal is to make the South African team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.
“I believe the squash goal is achievable as I estimate there would be around 15 people between me and the ranking I would need to reach to qualify.
“I want to be a marketable employee by bringing what I have learnt about grit and determination on the squash court into the business arena.”
Maree said he would not have achieved what he did without the backing from UJ.
“I would like to thank UJ Sport for their support this year with regards to my tuition, Ussa and the University World Championships.
“I cannot stress enough how important this was to my improvement and achievements. I am truly grateful.”