For a child of today’s generation, it’s surprising that Hrishikesh Shetluur finds inspiration from the past masters. Watching videos of table tennis wizard Jan-Ove Waldner, Hrishikesh got attracted to his effortless style of play. He isn’t in awe of the current stars of football. When down and out, the 11-year-old prefers watching Pele’s magical skills for motivation.
Hrishikesh is a rising name in Karnataka’s table tennis talent pool. From a family that excelled in the sport, it didn’t take long for Hrishikesh to pick up the racquet. His father, Ananth Raghavan Seshadri, is a former national-level player and a coach. Vijayasarathi Seshadri, Hrishikesh’s uncle, is a former India coach.
At the age of seven, he was the youngest player at his first competitive tournament -- the national-ranking (central zone) meet in Indore in 2014. A slew of state-ranking titles between 2015 and 2017 made him the top-ranked Karnataka player in the mini-cadet section.
Earlier this month, the Bengaluru boy bagged his maiden crown at the national stage when he emerged champion in the cadet boys’ section at the national-ranking (east zone) meet at Guwahati. “A zonal gold was my first target and I am happy to have achieved it,” Hrishikesh told DH.
In a successful year, topping the selection trials of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) in Ajmer was a confidence-booster for him. A strong competitor in the cadet section, he also managed to enter the main draw of the sub-junior category in as many as four national-ranking events.
“He couldn’t handle the weather at Ajmer and due to health issues, we had to take him out of the PSPB academy. But the short stint offered him good exposure,” said Ananth, who coaches at the Gems Table Tennis Academy.
Hrishikesh’s level-headed approach to defeats is what impressed Ananth the most. “He has an aggressive style of play. But whenever he loses, he first thanks his opponent and doesn’t hold any hard feelings towards him,” Ananth said.
Perhaps his interest in music has helped Hrishikesh stay a composed player.
“I am learning Carnatic music and I play the mrudangam,” said the Grade V student of Rashtrotthana Vidya Kendra, who aims to build on this encouraging start.