“Winning a National title was on my bucket list which I can tick now” – Rushil Khosla, after winning double crown in the junior Fenesta Nationals

Recently crowned Junior Fenesta National Champion in both singles and doubles, young Rushil Khosla is making huge strides on the ITF circuit as well. Before coming to the Nationals in Delhi, Rushil competed in the futures tournaments in Italy on clay and Tunisia on hard court. Carrying his success in the Nationals, 17 year old Rushil will next be travelling to Goa for the National Games alongside his Uttar Pradesh teammates including current men’s national champion Siddharth Vishwakarma and experienced Sidharth Rawat.

We had a chance to catch up with Rushil after the Nationals in Delhi.

Below are the excerpts :

Q) Congratulations on your success at the Fenesta Nationals! A double crown, how are you feeling about that ?

Rushil : So the doubles finals was on friday and the singles finals was on saturday. So yeah after winning the doubles finals I was feeling very good and I was just enjoying a bit with my partner Cahir and we were really happy about it and on the day of finals we were playing really good like really great, so it was a good day for me but I was like the job has not finished yet as I still have the singles finals tomorrow. So after enjoying for a bit, I just went back home & rested and just prepare myself for the Saturday finals. And on the day of the finals also I was playing really good, I started the match with very good aggression and I just dominated the whole match from the starting till the end. And the winning moment it was great, it was really magical and first time winning a National title it was one of my bucket list which I can tick it. Yeah I won the doubles earlier but winning a National title in singles is a big thing for me. So yeah one thing in the bucket list is done.

Q) Didn’t lost a single set either in singles or doubles this week, how were you able to come up with such dominance throughout the week ?

Rushil : Yeah I was playing really good, the training in Italy for 3 months and playing the Futures and I just got really good tournaments, really good confidence and has a lot of experience coming into the Nationals. And I was serving really good, my serve got broken just twice in the whole tournament and didn’t lose a set and the maximum games i gave anyone in a whole match was 6, not more than that. I was cruising through all the matches and not even in doubles we drop a set so I think it’s a big achievement for me to like dominating the whole tournament like that. So yeah it’s a big thing and I am really happy about it.

Q) You were the only junior player representing Uttar Pradesh. Does that sort of fact affects you in any way ? like does it add any extra pressure.

Rushil : I didn’t know that I was the only player representing Uttar Pradesh in the Boys U-18 side, I didn’t know that before the tournament you just told me now so yeah now I know it. But even if I knew something like that, i don’t think that would have been something to put pressure on me. And as far as going into and playing all the matches I didn’t really have a lot of pressure, I was just focusing match by match and didn’t really think about if I am the only one representing UP or any performance pressure I was just focusing on the matches nothing else.

Q) What are the positives you will be taking from this week and how are you feeling physically ?

Rushil : There are a few positives that I will be taking from the week. First of all, winning the National Title is a big thing so I am feeling really confident about the coming up tournaments. Secondly there are few other things like not dropping a set in singles and doubles, like I was playing so good so you know sometimes we can just get the flashback of the good points I played during the last week in singles and doubles. And other than that playing in Delhi, I live in Noida so if I win any tournament in Delhi so it’s like my home tournament. So that’s also a big thing for me. And as far as the tournament is concerned, I told you like winning the U-18 Nationals and winning it for the first time cause I have never won a National title in singles and I have never won the Fenesta title in doubles, I have won the Aurangabad Nationals but that is not the Fenesta Nationals so yeah it is the first time I have won and I got a double crown so yeah that’s again a important thing to keep in mind and yeah these are the positives that I’ll be taking.

And as far as physical condition, so during the tournament I was feeling a little tired in my back cause we have to play 2 matches everyday but I didn’t have any major issues and I was feeling really good on court and I think I will be ready for my upcoming tournaments as well and won’t be having any issues.

Q) You recently played couple of weeks in Tunisia. This was the first time you were playing hard court senior tournament outside India. What made you switch from European clay to hard court in Monastir ?

Rushil : Yeah it was my first time going to Tunisia, I went there for 2 15K’s. I was training in Italy so they had 15K & 25K nearby and those are usually on clay like they don’t really have hard court tournaments lately they are mostly clay. So we were training on clay in Italy with my coach, like I prefer hard court but that’s how the season goes sometimes you have to play on hard and sometimes on clay. And this time they didn’t have any tournaments in Italy nearby and I thought I don’t want to travel so much. In Italy they just told me to maybe go experience Tunisia and as i told you I prefer hard so yeah I thought it’s a good idea and I will be going to Tunisia so I was travelling with my mom there.

Q) Reviewing this year so far, you had couple of good wins in Delhi futures to start with then some good games in Chieti and a semis run in doubles as well. How would you access this year so far ?

Rushil : Yeah the tournament in Delhi the 25K,I will say that it was a big confidence booster because before that I had a left elbow injury and I was out for 2 months so I was not playing. I just played Delhi with like 10 days of training and I played pretty good and I was happy with my performance like qualifying and loosing in the main draw first round. It was a big thing for me like coming back from injury and I defeated 2 good guys in qualifying so that was also a big thing for me. I was really happy with that tournament like really really happy and thought that okay I haven’t lost anything yet and I am just the same player so the injury hasn’t affected me so much so I am back on track. And for the tournaments in Chieti, it was a great tournament again and I made another ATP point in singles. Reviewing that tournament, the first round of qualifying was comparably to here the 2nd round but nonetheless I was playing really good there also. I would say those clay courts, I have a really good feel on them. I was playing really good and I adjusted really well there. Because of the rain we had a rain delay and my momentum kind of broke. I give a good fight to the 2nd seed also like 500 in the world.

In Frascati, we got a wild card for the doubles and in the first round we beat the 2nd seeds who were ranked 400-500 in doubles. So yeah, doubles is like my speciality so when I feel good in doubles I am playing really well and I can beat the top guys for sure. It was a great match, I remember I was enjoying lot with my partner in that match and in the QF also we try to went with no expectations and no pressure so we were playing at the best level. But in the semis, we started the match really good we were like 3-0 or 4-0 up but the nerves came in and we were like oh we are playing so good, it’s the semis and everything because neither me nor my partner had really experience as it was the first time being in the semis and there was a possibility of reaching the finals so I would say the pressure just kicked in and we kind of lost our rhythm.

Q) How will you be approaching for the rest of the season ? What route are you thinking of taking going forward.

Rushil : So for rest of the season, just gonna play the National Games in Goa and after that we have to go to San Diego for the under 17 world championships and post that I think I might play some ITF 2 Or 3 maybe, I have to decide that. Mostly I am just gonna go for the pre season and get ready for the next year. So that’s my plan for this season and how to prepare for the next season.

Q) Will you be playing the National Games taking place in Goa in few weeks from now ?

Rushil : Yes I will be going for the National Games in Goa and representing my state. We have a great team this time, we have Siddharth Vishwakarma who just won the men’s national then Sidharth Rawat, Yash Chaurasia, Maan Kesarwani and I am the 5th person. So yeah it’s gonna be a fun experience. I have never been to Goa before so apart from tennis it’s gonna be a fun experience from the adventure side & the social life obviously we are going for the tournament but I am gonna enjoy it.

Q) In the end, what is your source of motivation right now ? And do you have any particular targets or goals you want to achieve ?

Rushil : I would say that I am very competitive guy so like in Italy when I see a player is playing better than me like I am happy for them but yeah that’s what keep me moving. I wanna be better than that level. So yeah that’s my main source of motivation. And other than that, I think that you can’t stay motivated everyday throughout the year so it’s more of discipline also. Like somedays you feel really good and somedays you don’t feel good you feel horrible, but yeah that day you have to play a match so you gonna keep discipline and you gotta focus and you gonna make it through the match. And other than that on the academic side, I got selected as the school head boy so I want to thank my school for believing in me that I am capable of handling that position. So that is one motivation for me because doing well in tennis and doing well in academics also, so that is one thing which makes me feel good about myself and makes me think that yeah okay I did this now I can do better than that. So these are the two things that motivates me one on the tennis side and one on the academic side.

And as far as the goals are concerned, I just keep pushing for the ATP rankings and just try to get a good pre season in and get ready for the next year and hopefully I’ll make a big breakthrough next year and gonna go little higher in the ranking something around 1200 gonna play a lot of futures and just enjoy the process.

P.S. Pictures credit to Kamesh Srinivasan

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