Badminton is growing quick. And with it’s growth, it throws up new superstars and promising youngsters everyday. One such bright prospect is Ruthvika Shivani Gadde. All of 18 years and the Senior National champion of India, Ruthvika is the next big thing for Indian badminton. The Junior World No.10 has been making rapid strides in the circuit, beating established players and winning the 2014 Tata Open Indian IC. Though there is a long way to go at the senior level Ruthvika has already made a mark, pushing top players to be at their best to beat her. Here’s what the youngster had to say to Essentially Sports in response to a few questions.
Q)Tell us how badminton changed from a fun sport to the biggest thing in your life.
Badminton is the best thing that happened in my life. When I was 5 years old, I started playing Badminton with my father along with his friends at Sequel club, Khammam in the year 2002. Fortunately he observed my interest towards playing badminton and made me join the Badminton academy approved by Sports Authority of A.P in the year 2004 at Khammam. After one year of joining academy, I started participating in under-10 yrs national tournaments which I haven’t stopped till date to become a professional badminton player.
Q)Take us through your daily routine.
I am currently training under National Badminton chief coach Mr. Pullela Gopichand at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, Hyderabad. My training schedule starts in the early morning at 4.30 am. I train for almost 6-7 hours a day with an ending session in the evening. I am pursuing B.Com degree second year at St. Ann’s College for Women, Mehadipatnam, Hyderabad. Attending classes regularly becomes very tough because of my training schedule.
Q)How tough is it to balance academics and badminton? How do you manage it?
I don’t think it is too tough to handle academics along with Badminton unless we aim for a distinction. As I couldn’t make it to the regular classes, I use to attend some weekly tuitions before the exams. Academics is also very important to gain basic knowledge as well as to improve communication skills which I haven’t neglected in my life. In my opinion everything can be achieved if you have interest on it.
Q)You are Junior World No.10. You have also participated and won a few senior tournaments. How different are the two levels and how do you adapt to them?
The level of competition is a little high in senior tournaments and we come across many experienced players in senior tournaments. In whichever tournament I participate, I keep thinking that I need to give my best and win as well. So, the level of tournaments doesn’t matter much.
When I was playing the finals of the Senior Nationals I kept telling myself that I badly needed to win match as I had lost the previous year’s title due to my twisted ankle. While I was very upset then, I made up my mind at the same time to work hard and play well the next year. The Tata open really gave me a boost up. At the time of Tata Open finale I was a little nervous which I had to suppress before entering the court. I kept telling myself to forget about the outcome and just play my best strokes.
Q)How much does training with stars like Sindhu, Kashyap and Srikanth help? Do they chip in with tips and advice for you?
I am very lucky to train with these experienced players. Yes, they do advise me on certain things. I do learn many things even by watching their play. Watching the way they train themselves to prepare for tournaments, the dedication they show towards the game etc. gives me a head start.
Q)You are already tipped to be India’s next big star and hence expectations are high. Is that some kind of pressure? How do you deal with it?
Right now, I am the current senior national champion. I’ve never felt pressure though. Only joy and pride. Until the expectations are realistic everything is fine.
Q)Tell us more about your short term and long term goals.
I won a senior international challenge tournament. Right now my short term goal is to win a grand prix tournament. My ultimate goal is to reach the world top 5 in Women’s singles category.
Q)Who has been your biggest support so far and what is the most important thing they have said to you?
My family members, friends and coaches support me a lot. Without their support I wouldn’t have reached so far. The most important thing they taught me is to make some noise during the success and work hard to increase that noise.
With Saina, Srikanth, Sindhu and Kashyap making it big already, Ruthvika Shivani has some big names to emulate. Her gameplay, the confidence and the recent results ( Semi-finals at the Junior German Open,Winner at Tata Open and Senior Nationals) show that she has the mettle to achieve that. She has also had the right experience, spearheading the Indian challenge at the 2014 Youth Olympics and Mixed Team Championships. With a perfect platform in place all she needs is the right push and a big break to reach heights never before touched. Essentially Sports wishes her all the very best!