Gritty Srikanth puts mind over matter

Determined Young Srikanth Kashyap has cleared several hurdles to grow as a fine paddler. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

During his early days in table tennis, Srikanth Kashyap had the skill to recover from tough situations. But he had a bigger problem to solve: his temper. 

Srikanth’s opponents knew half the battle was won if they rile him up. “Whenever I felt my game wasn’t up to the mark I would feel irritated. When I lost crucial points, I would lose confidence and my hands wouldn’t move smoothly,” Srikanth admits.  

“He wouldn’t speak to anyone at home in anger after his defeats,” says father PS Vijaya Vittala. “We would wait for a couple of hours for him to calm down and then talk to him about accepting defeats,” he recollects. 

Today, Srikanth is a different player. Meditation has helped him address the issue. The 14-year-old, ranked sixth in India in the boys’ U-15 singles’ section, has won a string of State and State-ranking titles in the last three years. Srikanth, who is supported under Khelo India, is ranked second in Karnataka in the sub-junior singles section.  

A severe injury, suffered two years ago in a State-ranking meet in Hosapete, was a big test of character for Srikanth. “He hurt his pelvic bone and was out of action for six months. He had no strength to even stand for a short while,” says Vittala, a foreman in the Department of Electronic and Communication at the APS College of Engineering. 

After his recovery, Srikanth, now a ninth standard student of Sri Kumarans Children Home Bangalore, has worked hard on his fitness. Apart from his six-hour table tennis practice schedule, Srikanth goes for fitness training starting at 4:30 am under Dronacharya awardee VR Beedu for three hours.  “One aspect that stands out in Srikanth is his fighting spirit,” observes coach Anshuman Roy of the Skies International Table Tennis Academy. “He is an aggressive player who loves to dominate his opponent from the word go. We have worked a lot on his short temper. We have told him not to look back on the lost points and matches,” says Anshuman, the India U-18 and U-15 coach.  

Srikanth, who also thanks his mother HS Ranjani (HOD, Kannada department at APS College of Arts and Science), and first coach Jagadeesh Chandra for their constant support, adores Chinese ace Ma Long. “I love his style of play and he can adapt to any situation,” says Srikanth.

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