Krushmi Chheda is India’s leading Nutritionist and Sports Scientist as well as a former giant of Indian Tennis.
In this interview, Krushmi Chheda , talks about her journey into tennis, Nutrition and her work with India No.1 Ankita Raina, Find out more about tennis player-turned-nutritionist Krushmi herself.
These are series of articles going in-depth into the journey of Ankita Raina, the Indian no.1 in singles and doubles on the WTA Rankings. Find out more from the previous articles here –
1. “She is waiting for her opportunity. And it will come – sooner or later” – Lalita Raina ji, sharing a mother’s perspective, on the tennis journey of Ankita Raina
2. “Face challenges. Do not get bogged down. Do not look back. March ahead despite all the difficulties.” advises Ravinder Krishan Raina ji, father of the Indian no. 1 at WTA Rankings, Ankita Raina
3. Ankur Raina, brother of Indian No.1 Ankita Raina, provides a sibling’s perspective on the inspiring journey of Ankita
4. “There were so many players more talented than her, but her hard work stood out” – Coach Hemant Bendrey on Ankita Raina
Can you provide details on your relationship with Ankita Raina and your initial impressions on working with her ?
Ankita is a fun person. She is light-hearted and fun to be around. She loves music and loves to dance. More than anything, she is dedicated to tennis which is why She is currently the No.1 tennis player in our country.
Her family has put in a lot of sacrifices and it comes around immediately. I didn’t even have to wake her up and tell her what her routine should be. She is a mature tennis player and not everyone is as dedicated to her. Players spend a lot of time on the tennis circuit and it gets very hard to self motivate. There are some players more dedicated than others. She is one of them.
She does her warm-ups and cool-downs. She makes sure that she is hitting with good players. She is well prepared for her matches. She has traveled so much that she is aware of her do’s and don’ts. What I was helping her to do, was to tweak and polish out wherever she was falling back. So for her meal plans, I would go down with her for her breakfast, to understand what her routine was and what she likes to eat. We were weighing her food so she could understand her portion sizes, but I didn’t need to do it over and over again. I practiced the food routine with her for 2-3 days. She identified what she had to do. She is a very quick learner which I think helps her a lot. She learns from her mistakes and tries to better them. She is hungry for more which is the best part.
What do you think are her strengths and the areas where she could have improve?
Her strengths – She is a strong girl, both physically and mentally. She is very strong on court. She has fantastic groundstrokes. So I think game-wise and skill-wise, she right up there with the top players. When I saw her play her matches even with the top seeds, she was close and on par with them. She is as strong as a top 100 player.
Her dedication, hunger and desire to get better is another strength that she has. The thing which she could work on was how she moves and how she can sustain her intensity throughout the match. It is the toughest thing for her because she plays so many weeks outside her training base, so we can’t help her to build up. There was a phase where we were trying to pull up her muscle strength and reduce the fat which we were able to do but sustaining that gets hard because she is always traveling to places in such quick intervals that she may not be able to sustain her training program.
And she is playing singles and doubles. She has been doing great at the doubles circuit as well. It’s tough to sustain because she has to play so many matches. The tennis circuit is gruelling and there are no breaks on the circuit. The great thing is that she is fit. The issue is to sustain whatever she is trying to improve on, in her offseason. She has the belief. She had gotten some great back to back wins this season and she was on a spree. It’s unfortunate that we have been hurt with the Coronavirus. Otherwise, she was on a good spree right now.
What do you think were her strengths and the areas where should get better back then?
I had to focus on her nutrition. She travels so much and she loves her food. She is quite a foodie but she is disciplined. The minute we gave her the plan she was going to follow that. The thing which gets tough is the availability of food. So what I had to help her do was to give her different plans for different continents. We were trying to work on building consistency. Consistency in the way she plays in her matches, consistency in her eating patterns, trying to help her identify what is enough for her because she would either under-eat or overeat, which we have been able to change now.
Your thoughts on Ankita Raina – the player. She has been No.1 for India for many years now. What do you think makes her stand out?
It is her dedication and love for the sport. I think she eats, drinks, sleeps Tennis which is what makes her very special. I think a lot of players do get distracted somewhere down the line but I don’t think she has ever been distracted. Since the last few years that I have worked with her, I have never seen her go stray. Her world revolves around tennis and I think this is what makes her stand out from the rest of the players.