Sharath kamal happy with progress

Published: 16th July 2013 07:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2013 07:37 AM   |  A+A-


World No 64 Achanta Sharath Kamal, India’s top paddler, comes across as an exceedingly decent and well-spoken person, much in the same vein as one of the sporting heroes he admires – tennis star Roger Federer. He is back from the Asian Championship to spend some time with his family before he resumes training. He speaks to TNIE about his good summer and the challenges that lie ahead. Excerpts:

On recent performances

It has been a great few months for me, with good shows at the Commonwealth, World and Asian Championships. At the World Championships I lost to Germany’s World No 5 Timo Boll after holding a match point. I’ve been playing consistently well and that has given me a lot of confidence. In the next month or so, my world ranking, presently 64, should rise to somewhere between 55 and 58. On the other hand, Chinese players are still a notch higher and that is motivation enough for me to keep working hard. I’m also looking forward to doing well at the Commonwealth Games next year.

On the Indian ranking system

The Indian ranking is basically for a selection into the national team as not everyone gets the chance to play abroad. The best five players are given opportunities to play tournaments abroad. My national ranking, however, is unimpressive because I only play in the national championships. TT players, unlike their tennis counterparts, are not the ones who chalk up their calendar, it’s the federation that takes those decisions. TT doesn’t have too much cash being pumped in, thus we players have to sign with government organisations if we want to make a living playing this sport.

On the need to play tournaments abroad

Indian players need to play a whole lot more at the international level if we are to make big strides. Playing abroad is an education in itself as one encounters varied styles and levels of play that in turn bring about an improvement in one’s own game. I signed a 10-month contract with Borussia Dusseldorf in the German Bundesliga, the best league in Europe. That exposure has really helped me blossom.

On Indian players

Indian TT has a lot of good names in its ranks. Soumyajit Ghosh is highly-talented and has a bright future. Harmeet Desai is a hard-working lad. K Shamini has a lot of potential, but needs to play more international tournaments to reach the next level. Closer to home, in Chennai, we have G Satyam and Nitin T who are up-and-comers.

On his academy

Chennai has always been a great base for unearthing talent. Plus, the coaches who once taught me are now looking after the youngsters at my academy. Whenever I’m in Chennai, I make it a point to spend time and help it grow.


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