By Vatsal Tolasaria, February 3, 2018
Rutuja Bhosale was one of the most promising names back in the early 2010’s in the Junior Circuit across India. She had won the Asian Junior Championships in Chennai in 2011, which had catapulted her into the top 55 of the ITF Juniors Rankings.
But she decided to put a halt to playing international tournaments, and went to the Texas A&M University in the United States to play NCAA tennis.
She came back to India to play on the Women’s circuit in 2017, and picked up from right where she had left off. She won her maiden ITF Women’s Singles title in Aurangabad on clay, and then added another to her kitty in Hua Hin(Thailand) later in the year. And now she’s ready to build on it in 2018, starting with playing for India in the Fed Cup in New Delhi.
Indian Tennis Daily caught up with her in Pune, whilst she turned spectator to watch her childhood idols like Gilles Simon play at the Balewadi Stadium in early January.
Q) When did you start playing tennis and what got you interested in the first place?
I have been playing tennis since I was 9 years old and had no intention of playing it as a profession. My dad was a track and field athlete and he wanted to put me into some sport. His best friend’s son used to play Tennis and so he decided me to put me into Tennis too.
Q) What has been the role of your family in your tennis. Tell us about some of the sacrifices that they may have done to get you to reach this stage.
My dad is part of the Police and his work required him to shift locations on a regular basis. As my Tennis was developing, my family made the sacrifice to keep me at one location to ensure my tennis progresses. So it was only dad who had to travel and sometimes he would not see us for months together which was very hard. If I think back now, it was a huge sacrifice. They have been a huge pillar of support, push me and are there for me all the time. Family played and continues to play a very important role for me.
Q) Who was your role model growing up?
Obviously my dad. He used to share his experience with sport (specifically track and field, kabaddi) and told me how it helped him in his life to become a better person in everything. Even now, the way my Dad handles my wins and losses, I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for my Dad sharing his experience with me. The way he handles me, is a big inspiration for me. He is the one I look upto.
Q) You had a very successful junior career with a career high of ~55 rank. What influenced you to take the US College path?
It was a sudden and not a planned decision. There were certain situations which happened both in my personal and tennis life and we collectively took the decision of taking the US College path. I was a bit unhappy then but in hindsight, it worked out for me. That stint showed me where my game was and what I needed to work on both physically and mentally, to take my game to the next level. It was a good decision overall.
Q) You were already ranked close to the top-500 back then. Do you still think it was the right path?
As I said, there were both personal and tennis aspects which influenced my decision. I don’t know where I would have ended up if I continued with Tennis. However, I prefer to take the positive outlook on things and feel good about the path I have taken.
Q) What kind of physical training do you do to keep yourself in top shape? Tell us a bit about your practice schedule.
I practice in the morning from about 8 AM to 10 AM as part of the first session. Then we take about an hour break. Then we do fitness + tennis session again. A break of 45 – 60 mins and then again we have another session of Tennis or Fitness. This is the regular schedule.
Q) Who is your coach and whom do you practice with?
My coach is Mr Hemant Bendrey and I practice with Ankita Raina, Arjun Kadhe and others.
Q) I believe Natasha Palha also comes there?
Natasha comes in on and off and so also play with her when she is there.
Q) Do you follow any ritual before the match?
Not really. If I go to a restaurant before the match day, I try to follow the same routine of breakfast and dinner. Lunch – I do not really care but I need to have the same breakfast and dinner. That’s my superstition before the match.
Q) Looking back at your career in retrospect, any aspects of your game that you would have changed earlier?
I would have tried to be more of a variety player. Right now, I play mostly from the baseline and enjoy playing at the net but the way my game is setup right now, it is not possible as much.
I would like to add more variation to my game if I could.
Q) Goals for 2018.
Get closer to the top-300 ranking, to represent India in the Fed cup and keep getting better with my game. I don’t want to put too many goals and add pressure.
Q) Any advice for the parents of upcoming players and juniors?
Only advice would be to not involve your kid into the financial aspects. Once the player is aware of the financial issues, it gets to their head and impacts their game. They should let them focus on their game and wins/losses are short term aspects which should not impact them. Just be there for them.
Q) Given your experience of observing how the foreign federations operations, what would be the changes that you would like to be brought into Indian Tennis?
I would love all the other associations to emulate the Gujarat model. It has made a huge difference to the players from there. We can clearly see more and more players coming out of Gujarat. It’s really amazing.
Q) Is the Texas A&M team still involved with you in your Tennis?
They are available to me whenever I reach out to them. If I go to the US to play tournaments, I have the option of using the Texas A&M facilities and train with the team. I have the option of taking their help for a fitness program too. So the support is not active but whenever I do reach out, the team is there to support me.
Rapid Fire –
|What do you do in your free time?||Listening to music and hanging out with Family|
|Dream Mixed Doubles Partner||Roger Federer|
|Favorite Food||Mom’s Chicken|
|Favorite country and why?||Spain – love the vibes over there.|
|A place that you haven’t been to and would like to visit?||South America – Puerto Rico, Ecuador and other countries|
|Best friend(s) on tour||Everyone|
|Celebrity crush||Hemsworth brothers (Chris and Liam)|