CHENNAI: Someone who prefers to keep to herself, a badminton court is where Aakarshi Kashyap likes to express herself and do the talking. That's been the case ever since she picked up the sport at the age of eight.
On Wednesday, she was in her zone during the women's singles final of the BAI series senior meet, outsmarting her opponent and preserving her reputation as one of the titans in the domestic circuit.
"I'm happy that BAI has resumed all-India ranking meets. I played a lot of tough matches.
Most of them were younger than me so I was under a bit of pressure playing against them. I coped with the pressure and I'm very happy with my overall output," said Aakarshi, who got the better of Tanya Hemanth 21-15, 21-12 on the day.
Having dominated the domestic circuit for a few years now, Aakarshi's intent is to rub shoulders with the top guns at the elite level on a frequent basis. Having observed them work the magic closely, the 20-year-old from Chhattisgarh said she has been looking to elevate her mental aspect of the game.
"I need to keep more focus during crucial stages of the game. If I'm able to do that, I'll definitely start getting more wins at the international level. In Bangladesh (International Challenge), I lost in the final game (quarterfinals). My opponent went on to finish as runners-up in the event. It's just a few things I need to focus on, mostly on my attacking skills and mental side of the game," the 20-year-old noted.
"I'm doing meditation. I try to imagine all scenarios that could happen during a match."
The level of dedication Aakarshi and her support system has been putting was visible to see during the meet. Her father, Sanjeev, had also tagged along with her, patiently capturing videos of every match that she featured in.
"I usually watch my matches after I play them just to remember all the points. After playing a match, we usually forget our mistakes. Once I watch them again, we recall all the things. That helps me make myself better for the next games," said the Suchitra Badminton Academy trainee, who has had a spell at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy earlier.
Apart from video pointers and mental development, she's also determined to become more robust as the shuttlers tend to have a busy calendar.
"I feel possessing strength is vital. After playing an hour-long match, the players are unable to play the next day sometimes. If we could improve on our strengths, we'll be able to play at a consistent pace, play a series of tournaments in a row and get the desired results," the World No 76, who's backed by Olympic Gold Quest, said.
With numerous big events, starting with the India Open, lined up in 2022, Aakarshi and the rest of the Indian aspirants will have to conjure bucketloads of strength.
Men's singles: K George bt S Dey 21-15, 21-12. Women's singles: A Kashyap bt T Hemanth 21-15, 21- 12. Women's doubles: S Gautam/A Bhat bt S Mishra/S Shukla 23-21, 21-16. Men's doubles: Hariharan A/Ruban Kumar R bt Ravikrishna PS/S Udayakumar 21-19, 18-21, 21-6. Mixed doubles: R Kapoor/S Santosh bt Sunjith S/Gowrikrishna TR 21-16, 20-22, 21-12.