Nishesh Basavareddy is a name that has been slowly catching the imagination of Tennis fans on the Junior Circuit. The 15-yr old from Indiana, who traces his roots to Andhra / Hyderabad region in India, is ranked No. 3 amongst 2005 or later born and is World No. 2 in the UTR U16 rankings.
In his burgeoning tennis career, Nishesh has several accomplishments to boot already
- Orange Bowl U14s champion in 2019
- Orange Bowl U12s finalist in 2017
- World Junior Finals – Winner USA – Nishesh was unbeaten
- USTA U14s Clay Court National Champion
- USTA U12s Winter Nationals Champion
- ITF U18 : #89 rank
- UTR U16 World No. 2
- And much more
In this interview, Nishesh takes us through his journey so far, the support from Coach Smith, his parents, USTA, Rajeev Ram, about his roots from Andhra, representing USA to the World Junior Finals title and much more..
Could you share some details about your background? Where did your parents come from in India and take us through the journey from India to California.
Both my parents are from South India. They’re from Nellore and they moved here in 1999. They moved first to Northern california, in the San Francisco area. My brother was born there and in 2004 they moved to Southern California. I was born there in Newport Beach.We lived there for 8 years in Irvine. My dad works at Toyota and they relocated to Indiana. My father wanted to stay with them, so we moved to Indiana. We’ve lived here ever since.
When did you and your brother really get into tennis ? Did you start in California or once you moved to Indiana ?
Yeah we started playing in California. My dad used to play for fun in Irvine and my brother started playing a little bit then. I started playing at the local club. I started playing some local tournaments in the last year and a half that was there. 10 and under. We also played soccer and some other sports. Once we moved to Indiana, we’ve been playing only tennis (we played soccer a little bit in the beginning).
When you were in California, what kind of courts were you playing on ? Were you playing on clay courts or mixing it up ?
The local club that we played at was hard courts. Once we started playing a bit more seriously at Racket club of Irvine, that was clay courts only.For a little over a year we were practicing mostly on clay courts.
By the time you moved to Indiana, you were already playing competitive
Yeah we were playing competitively. 2013 was when I played Little Mo (National tournament) and started playing competitively mainly that year and we moved to Indiana that summer.
Nishesh Basavareddy competed at the Little Mo event in 2013. Photo Credits: TeluguPeople.com
Coming to the present day, you’re world number 86 in the ITF juniors and you’re the third highest ranked junior in 16 and under. You’re moving towards being guaranteed a slot in the junior grand slam. What are your thoughts and plans on that?
My plans are to play some more in the juniors this year so I can get into the junior grand slams. The main draws and hopefully go deep in them. Also later in the year start playing some 15ks, 25ks (ITF Men’s futures) to start seeing how the level is there as well. And continue improving with my tennis game and physically off the court.
Since you’re really young, how tough or easy is it to manage school along with this. Do you do homeschooling ? How’re you managing everything ?
Up until this year I was doing normal public school. This year because of covid and also I was planning on doing online school. Most of my classes are virtual. This year I’m at home. Thats been a bit better for my tennis. I have some more time to practice and train. Before this year up until sophomore year, I was always in normal public school. It was pretty tough to manage especially when last year I started travelling more for ITF tournaments. Once you start playing week along tournaments it becomes a bit tougher. But I’m able to manage it pretty well.
Do you need special permission from your school to miss several weeks ?
They were really good with it. They said as long as I made up the work and came back and took the tests. All the teachers were really cooperative.
You’ve also been involved with the Indianapolis tennis community. How’s that being coming along?
Since we moved to Indiana, the first couple of months I was with one coach and then I moved to Brian Smith and I’ve been with them for the last 7 years or so. The training is really good.
With Brian and the team do you work just on tennis or do you work on your physical fitness and other things as well with the same team?
I work with Brian for tennis and we also have a separate trainer, he works in close connection with Brian. He does stuff at the same club as well.
What kind of training stuff do you focus on? Have you started doing any weight training, or is it only conditioning for now ?
Up until a year ago, it was mostly only conditioning and mobility, things like that. In the past year, I’ve started getting more weight training, lower body and upper body. Also doing injury prevention stuff. Conditioning. So in a week, I do around 3 days of weight training and maybe 3 days of conditioning and I normally take one day off. So most of the time it’s like half and half. And I do stretching at home everyday.
Talking about injury prevention. You had a big knee injury in 2018 and you were out almost for a year. Could you give us some details on what happened there and how you managed it ?
In 2016 I got my first knee injury in a tournament. My kneecap dislocated and I had to get the cartilage repaired because the cartilage moved out of place. That took maybe 8-9 months to recover. It had some complications but I recovered.
In 2018 I tore my meniscus in a tournament. The doctor didn’t know till 3-4 months what it was. I got a cortisone shot and they still didn’t know what it was, and then they finally found that it was a meniscus tear so with that one I was out for maybe 15 months and it was pretty tough.
I came back and since then I’ve been doing pretty good overall but still sometimes small injuries and niggles come up. I have some patella tendonitis so I have to do rehab nearly everyday with strengthening the muscles around the knees. Hopefully that will go away soon.
Are natural surfaces easier on your knees compared to hard courts?
It’s definitely better for me that way. I would say clay courts are my favorite. But maybe currently, I might perform better on hard courts. But definitely clay courts have also suited me well, and they’re good for training. Softer on the joints.
You’re from the same school and you’ve been sharing the same coach as Rajeev Ram, when he was a junior. He’d mentioned in one of our interviews with him that he sees you as a very bright prospect. Can you talk about his role in your junior career so far ?
I’ve known him since I was 8-9. I used to see him when he used to come back and train during the offseason. But I didn’t really have a personal connection with him back then. Slowly over the years as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to hit with him more and he would give me some advice. I’d get to see how pros train, the work ethic, what they do on and off the court.So I think it’s been good seeing him and have someone to show what it takes to become a successful player. I’ve watched a lot of his matches so he’s been a great inspiration!
Nishesh Basavareddy with Rajeev Ram in December 2017. Photo credits: Smith Tennis.
Going back to your comeback after your injury in 2018, you won the u14 clay court championship and you were also 11-0 in the world junior tennis finals. How was that experience, competing with the best in your age group ?
That tournament was a really good experience, I was coming back so I didn’t have too many expectations. I knew I was playing well with my results in the US. I thought it’d be good to see how everyone was working in Europe and Asia. Overall it was a really good experience. Everyone on the team I was good friends with. Those 2-3 weeks were a lot of fun in Czech Republic. It was good to come home with the title. Overall a very good learning experience.
Nishesh Basavareddy during the World Junior Tennis finals. Photo Credits: ITF
You’ve also been playing on the ITF junior tour for a while. You had a great start and were doing really well and that’s about when the pandemic hit. How were you managing your break during covid ? Taking a break, doing anything different ?
It came as a surprise. I knew that the virus was there but I didn’t know how much of an impact it would have worldwide. How it would affect people. Slowly tournaments started getting cancelled and everybody rushed home.
For the first week, we still had our normal tennis clinics and then they got cancelled. I started hitting with some friends on our middle school courts. We did that for 2-3 weeks. Then we ended up just quarantining. Me and my brother would just hit in the neighborhood 5-6 days a week. It was pretty light at the beginning I’d say.
We did some fitness at home. For the first two months from March to May, it wasn’t too intense. After that we started training much harder. Our clinics opened back up. We started training with a normal schedule.
Overall it was tough in the beginning but we got back into our normal routine.
Was it very different for you staying home after travelling so much for tournaments ?
It was obviously very unexpected for everyone. You try to do your bit as much as you can. It’s disappointing not to be able to travel more and play more tournaments. It was a very different experience.
When you travel for tourneys, do you have someone to accompany you?
Most of the time, I go with one of my parents. To Costa Rica and Dominican Republic, the USTA took me with 2 coaches and 3 other players. Hopefully I can do more trips to tourneys with the USTA.
About a month back, you played against former top 150 ATP Pro Stefan Kozlov and took a set against him. How was that experience for you?
It was my first time to play against a competitive player of that level. Overall it felt good as I learnt that my level wasn’t too far away. I have to work on a few things to stay at that level throughout the match.
There is a big difference between the Juniors and the Pros in terms of the physicality. It will be the main focus for me over the next 2-3 years. Tennis wise it isn’t too much different – obviously they hit the bigger balls, play more consistent but I think that will come with more match play and practice.
The main part is to get physically stronger to maintain that level throughout the match and play the bigger points well. He was definitely better than me at the corners and he was able to maintain the higher level on average throughout the match even though my highest level and his level was pretty similar.
He is able to maintain the average level more.
You had withdrawn from the tourney after the match against Stefan Kozlov. Are there any injury concerns?
I had some hamstring pain before the tourney. It was getting a bit better before the tourney, so I thought that I would be able to play the full tourney. During the early part of the match, it reaggravated again – I was able to finish the match but wasn’t able to move too much at the end.
On the next day, I tried warming up but I wasn’t able to do so. It’s been a couple of weeks that I’ve not been able to practice. So I am taking some time off to recover, get stronger and take the pain away.
Do you get to hit with the Pro players regularly?
In Indiana, most of the time, I hit with other high school kids and the college players who come back. I go to the USTA center about a couple of times a month and there I am able to hit with a couple of ATP players. Those are the occasions where I can gauge on how I am able to play against the bigger balls.
There is a delicate balance between short term results and focusing on the longer term aspects of the game. How do you manage this right now?
For me, the bigger focus is on improving my overall game and improving physically. So that is the focus for me as I still have time later to play more tourneys.
On an average, how many hours a day do you train – just tennis?
When I am at home, it’s about 3 hours of tennis and in Orlando USTA center, about 4 hours of tennis.
Your brother Nishanth has been a strong junior as well.
We have a good connection. He is a couple of years older to me and so it’s always been good to have a sibling whom I can play with.
We played a lot of tourneys together and enjoyed playing doubles with him. Our last ITF tourney was a doubles title win, so it was a good memory.
Are you thinking of College Tennis?
Right now, I am thinking of taking the College Tennis route at the beginning. After that, hopefully I can go pro sometime in those 4 years. I am talking to a few coaches but I haven’t narrowed it down too much yet.
Do you know what you want to study in College?
I am leaning towards Computer Science and Information Systems as of now.
Do you visit India once in a while?
When I was younger, we used to go every year. The last I went was in December 2018. We tend to go once every 3 years maybe to visit my Grandparents and other family members.
We normally visit Hyderabad, Nellore and Puttaparthi regions when I am there.
|Hobbies||Reading books, playing Ping Pong, Basketball|
|Favourite Book / Author||Fiction books like Harry Potter and then Autobiography books like from Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras|
|Favourite Cuisine / Food item||I eat Chipotle a lot. So I guess Mexican food.|
|Favourite tourney that you played so far||World Junior Tennis event in Czhech|
|Favourite Travel Destination||Paris|
|Best win of your career so far||Winning Orange Bowl last year|
|A loss that hurt you the most||Paris Longines – I lost in the knock stages after winning the Group stage.|
Nishesh Basavareddy during the Longines Future Tennis event in 2016. Photo credits: Tennisviewmag.com