Interview by Vedant Bhagat, Smithfields High School student in Rhode Island
Prajnesh Gunneswaran had a tough loss against Marcel Granollers of Spain in R1 of the ATP Newport 250 event in Rhode Island, losing by a score of 26 26. This is one of the least favorite grass court surface of Prajnesh as it offers minimal bounce and the ball tends to die pretty fast leaving little scope for long rallies, which is the forte of Prajnesh.
After the predictable loss, Vedant caught up with Prajnesh and Coach Balachandran sir to get their viewpoints on the match and the tourney.
Grass is probably not your preferred surface.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: We win some and lose some. It was definitely not my best performance. I’ve got to work on some stuff and hopefully when I come back to the grass season next year, I will have a better run.
How do you review the match?
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: Marcel Granollers was really comfortable on grass. He showed me in this match how effective it can be if you do the right things on grass as opposed to what I did which was a bit passive and before you know, the match turns and the momentum is gone. It’s a learning curve and definitely an experience, not a happy one but that’s how it goes.
I’ve got to take the positive lessons from that and go forward.
ATP Newport has a long history of success for Indians and with huge Indian participation. How has your experience been playing an event with such a history?
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: Yes it’s pretty cool. Leander has done pretty well. Rajeev Ram, who is an American, has also done well here. Prakash has done well here as well. So we can see lot of Indians doing well here and I can clearly see why.
My game is not the typical Indian style. The Indian players we are talking about are really good with serve and volley. My game is a bit different but you know if I focus on the right things, I can do well on this surface as well. Hopefully I can continue that trend. Let’s see.
What has been your favorite event to play at so far?
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: Indian Wells. The event also had a big Indian crowd there, lot of support and also I was able to get couple of high profile wins. I went through a lot of matches during that event and showed myself that I could do well at the highest stage. So far, that has been the highlight event for me.
What advice do you have for the young Indian players who are trying to improve – whether it’s at the school level like me or players with larger aspirations.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: It’s really important to dream big and have large goals and work your way towards them. You should have that attitude of never to give up. I am one of those guys who has showed that because I have been injured for a long time and so I made it pretty late. So if I can do, everyone else can do too.
How do you adjust the practice sessions of Prajnesh based on his match results?
Coach Balachandran Sir: It depends on the combination of factors like the surface (now we are moving from Grass to Hard Courts) and also if Prajnesh has any match coming up. If there is a match coming up and if we want to focus on a specific aspect of his game, then we only focus on that without making it too intense for him. For example, it could be the change of direction on the forehand – if he missed a few, then we focus on that. If there is no match coming up, then we have a practice session and add specific focus area drills to that.
These things change based on the various variables involved like the upcoming opponent, tourney, surface, Prajnesh’s fitness levels and so on.