14-year old Rushil Khosla has made his presence felt on the Asian U14 scene over the last couple of years. He has already been recognised by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of India Ram Nath Kovind for his exceptional talent through the Bal Shakti Puraskar 2020.
As Rushil takes the strides towards U18 Tennis, ITD caught up with Rushil during the U18 Nationals in Indore to know the journey so far and his thoughts on the path ahead.
In the match against Manas Dhamne (AITA U18 Nationals Semis), you were 5-2 in the 3rd set – what went wrong after that?
I missed two crucial points and then he held the serve. Then at 5-4, I had 2-3 unlucky points – some mishit returns from Manas and a volley that I had, I didn’t finish it.
At 5-5, my leg muscle cramped. I tried giving my best but just couldn’t make it.
How do you view your performance in this AITA U18 Nationals in Indore?
I entered as a qualifier and made it to the semis – played against Denim Yadav, Deep Munim and Seed 2 Karan Singh to make it here. Performance was good, sometimes you can say, it was not your day. I had won more points in the match!!
Overall it’s a great learning journey and a long way to Go and I am enjoying each moment of it.
Taking a step back, how did your journey in Tennis begin?
I am a sports freak. My sister Jhanvi played Tennis and I watched from outside.The day Coach took me, there was no looking back.
My natural skill, hand eye contact and anticipation was appreciated by my coaches. I started playing and winning tournaments at 8 yrs and became more focussed to Tennis.
From then, my dream is to be the Best Player.
You come from a highly educated family. You are a bright student yourself and your mom is a professor. How do you manage the balance between both tennis and studies?
I maintain a balance while focusing more on tennis. I utilise my travel time for studies. Instead of taking out a phone for movies or other entertainment, I attend online school classes, make notes instead and start learning. Mom says I am a quick learner. So I save my playtime with friends.
My mother is a professor and my Nana is a Principal and a great teacher with exceptional skills – their support is great.
The recent shift to online classes has also helped greatly.
You are the Asian No. 1 in U14. Can you talk about some of the big wins and the countries you went to, to achieve that ranking?
My first tourney abroad was in Bahrain in March 2019. There I defeated a top player from Dubai in R1. In R2, it was a boy from Bahrain, QF win was against an Egyptian top seed and the semis/finals were against Iranians.
The final was a tough 3-setter in extreme heat. I won the doubles title as well with my partner from Kazakhstan..Twin Crown
Next was Dubai win. Followed by Almaty and Shymkent success, closing at Gurgaon in Feb 2020 with more than 7000 points.
I became Asia No 1 at the age of 12 and continued in that position from April 2019 till March 2021.
You moved to the ITFs this year and had a couple of good results already. Any changes that you noticed while transitioning to play with the bigger boys.
I used to be a defensive player as I was thin with limited power but my mind and intent are to hit the ball. However with time I have stepped up to match bigger boys both in mind and skill. I have fully enjoyed my last 3 months.
My coach Aditya Sachdeva Sir is my Guru ji, my lifeline, and I worked on my physical strength with Trainer Vaibhav and have improved. At the higher level, I can’t afford to be defensive – I need to be the aggressor and take my chances.
Your time at Team Tennis Academy. Note about your Coach Aditya Sachdeva and your peers there.
We have 8 courts there. Many younger kids come to me and we chat / discuss Tennis tips/tactics. Yuki Bhambri also comes there. We ask him if we have any problem. So the chain of support goes all around. Many players message me when I am playing tournaments to check on how I am doing. So it’s good to have that support system.
Under the supervision of Coach Aditya Sachdeva sir, I am looking forward to improving more. I have my peer group there with Yuvan Nandal, Agriya Yadav, Ajay Malik, Nishant Dabas and 2-3 more – we are grouped together and so we learn in a positive environment.
We have 2-3 hours of Tennis training and about 1.5 hrs of fitness training per day.
For the people who have not seen your game, how do you describe it?
I have an all-round game. I can play from all corners of the court – at the net, play from the back, attack, defense. I have all those skills in my bag.
I will work on my volley for sure now!!
Talk about the role of your family and parents in your Tennis journey.
My biggest support, my source of energy, direction and all happy moments.
My Dad is my superhero – patient and focussed always there! I am a bit emotional, sometimes even on the Tennis court, I am growing!
Improving my skills, physical strength and want training abroad opportunities. Playing ITFs only and focusing on good tournaments. I don’t have any ranking targets but certainly improvement targets.
|Hobbies||Eating good food and binge watching|
|Fav travel destination||Kazakhstan. Weather was amazing – in the 20 degrees. Not cold or hot – very pleasant weather to play Tennis in.|
|Fav food / cuisine||Whatever my Sister Chef cooks or bakes for me..drooling love|
|The loss that hurt you the most||1. Dehradun ITF Semis2. Bhilai ITF Quarters 3. National U 18 Semi|
|Fav player||Anyone from the big-3|