This paddler takes inspiration from Sindhu

Table Tennis

PV Sindhu’s inspirational rise transcends sporting disciplines. The ambitious dreams of many upcoming sportspersons of the country are fuelled by the shuttler’s impeccable journey to the top. (DH Photo)

PV Sindhu’s inspirational rise transcends sporting disciplines. The ambitious dreams of many upcoming sportspersons of the country are fuelled by the shuttler’s impeccable journey to the top.

“I want to be like her (Sindhu). Seeing her win the World Championship and stand on the podium for the national anthem has left a huge positive impact on me,” says Yashaswini Ghorpade, a rising table tennis player from Karnataka.

Today, Yashaswini, with a packed schedule in front of her, has bigger goals to fulfil. But only a year ago, she had a different story to tell. To many in the Indian table tennis circuit, Yashaswini’s name didn’t ring a bell then. The Bengaluru girl was one among the hundreds of paddlers striving hard to make a mark beyond the State-ranking level.

As she stood on the verge of being an also-ran, Yashaswini’s coach Anshuman Roy took a decision that resulted in a remarkable turnaround in her career. “I decided to shift my complete focus on her in our academy. It was now or never for us. She had the potential to play for India so I took the call to dedicate my entire time to her,” says the former India international.

The all-out approach produced quick results. Her memorable run began with the twin titles at the Sub-junior nationals in Chandigarh in December last. After bagging the singles gold, she teamed up with her long-trusted partner Anargya Manjunath to wear the doubles crown. This was followed by an impressive show for the Indian team that won four gold medals at the Bahrain Open.

Her consistency was rewarded when Yashaswini became the only Indian girl in the Asian squad for the World Cadet Challenge in Poland last month. The 15-year-old helped India bag a bronze in the team event and finished an admirable fifth in the singles’ category. Continuing her rich vein of form, Yashaswini annexed the UTT West Zone National-Ranking singles title in Thane last week.

“She is a changed player now,” observes Anshuman. “She has got great exposure from her six-seven international tours. The national camps, one in China and one in Patiala, has boosted her confidence.” 

Following years of grind, Yashaswini is a happy girl. “It’s been a memorable journey. I feel glad that my hard work and patience has paid off,” says Yashaswini, who is now ranked second in the country in the junior section. She cannot stop thanking her parents, who showed great faith in her during her tough phase.

First two years of her tryst with table tennis was forgettable. A series of first-round defeats triggered doubts in the minds of Deepak Ghorpade, Yashaswini’s father. “We weren’t sure if she should continue playing. Her father, at one point, felt it was all over for Yashaswini. But we realised our support can help her survive the challenge,” recollects Geeta Ghorpade, Yashaswini’s mother.

Even as big wins eluded her, Yashaswini made sure her she never compromised on her preparations. Hard work has been her forte, points out Anshuman. This attitude has toughened Yashaswini as a player.

For instance, Yashaswini, who returned from World Cadet Challenge in Poland, got just six hours of sleep before her campaign at the National-ranking meet in Thane. That didn’t however stop her from winning five games in a row to take home the title. “In case she loses before the final in any tournament, she doesn’t go home. You can see her practice at the venue and work on her flaws,” says Anshuman.   

Improvement on the technical front has made Yashaswini a champion player. Her strong forehand has troubled many a top players. Her coach now wants her to take a leaf out of her idol Sindhu’s book, in terms of aggression while competing.

“She can be more aggressive. That will lift her when she is down and out in a game,” he says.   

It’s all coming together nicely for Yashaswini, a ninth standard student of Bangalore International Academy. The youngster is supported by Airport Authority of India (AAI). She has managed to get an equipment sponsor in Xiom, a Hong Kong-based company. Spinart, a Mumbai-based company has come forward to sponsor her clothing.

A girl of few words, Yashaswini, also supported by Khelo India, is in no mood stop.

“I want to maintain my consistency. I am giving importance to my fitness. Playing against different international players has been a great learning experience. Finishing fifth at the World Cadet Challenge is my best effort so far and I want to build on from that,” she says.  

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