Aayush making steady progress

Aayush P Bhat has been consistent with his performance in the national circuit

Choices define destiny. That saying holds true for Aayush P Bhat, who has shown a lot of promise in his chosen sport. 

Aayush had the option to pursue cricket, India’s most popular sport. But he decided to take the road less travelled. He picked up the tennis racquet instead and hasn’t looked back since.

“In my school (Inventure Academy) there is a big craze about cricket. Initially, I played both tennis and cricket but after a point, I realised I can’t do both because my tennis strokes were becoming like cricket shots. So I had to choose one. I chose tennis because it’s an individual sport and there are more opportunities,” said Aayush, whose sister Aaditi Bhat plays in the under-12 section.

He joined Sol Sports Academy and under the watchful eyes of his coach Suraj Bikkannavar, Aayush produced a fine performance at the U-12 Nationals in Mumbai, winning both singles and doubles titles, to become India No 1 in the category in 2017. 

That was just the start for the 14-year-old, who continued his fine form winning quite a few Talent series and Championship series before finishing as a semifinalist in Fenesta Nationals in October 2018. His efforts saw him secure the top ranking in the under-14 section, which he continues to hold.

Aayush’s mother Sudha Bhat, who manages his day to day affairs, has played a vital role in his growth. “My mom, she is there with me in all the tournaments. She is always preparing me before every match. She is the one who got me started into tennis,” said Aayush, who is in Mumbai for the under-16 Nationals with his father Pavan Bhat, a doctor.

The constant travel to different cities means missing out on school, but thanks to WhatsApp, Aayush has a way to keep up with his studies. “We have a WhatsApp group of all our friends from school. So, every day I catch up on the notes and when I don’t understand, I go back to school and ask the teachers during the lunch breaks,” said Ayush, who idolises Spanish great Rafael Nadal. Things have worked out well so far for the youngster, who is looking forward to facing more challenges.

“It’s been great. Lots of ups and downs. My coach has supported me really well. I look forward to much more,” he said.

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