Image Credits: Amrutha
Amrutha Pushpak Shekar is a 23-year-old paddler from Tamil Nadu. The No.1 ranked from the state has donned the Indian Jersey and represented India at various International tournaments across the world that she regards as the proudest moment in her career.
Amrutha Pushpak who is also an RBI employee talks about what brought her to the sport, her game plan, the support she gained through the various walks of life, and more about the sport in an exclusive interview with Fisto Sports.
Cricket and football is probably the most popular sport in India. Tell us how you got started with table tennis. How old were you and who introduced you to the sport?
I started playing Table Tennis at eight years of age. I was a little plumpy as a kid and so my parents enrolled me in Table Tennis in order to engage me in some kind of physical activity. With time I improved and started doing well and so I continued playing the sport.
Who do you look up to in Table Tennis like role model and why?
I like Zhang Yining (former Chinese player) for her game style and attitude on the table.
What equipment do you currently use?
Blade: Timo boll zlf
Forehand rubber: Tenergy 05
Backhand rubber: Tibhar genius supreme
How do you control nerves during a long rally?
The key is not getting carried away. So I try to stay in the present and stick to my game plan.
Backhand. I feel backhand is the one that comes easiest to me.
Some say playing table tennis for long hours gets you bored. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I have never felt it to be boring. It’s a fast game and it’s a very interesting game. It always keeps me up when I’m playing. My goals keep me motivated.
How supportive is your school/college in helping you in terms of TT?
I have received immense support from various institutions through every walk of life It helped me thrust my undivided attention towards the table.
I did my schoolings in two schools (Chettinad Vidyashram & St.Johns) namely, and they have always supported me by exempting me from attending school regularly. My college (M.O.P Vaishnav) has also provided me tremendous support has encouraged me throughout. Currently I am employed at the RBI ( Reserve Bank of India), and they have ensured their support in every aspect I require.
How is table tennis training different in India compared to other Asian and European countries? Which style do you prefer and why?
In other countries, they practice in extremely big halls and they differ by employing various training methods and techniques too. I like the European style of training as they cover every aspect of the game and give equal importance to every aspect of the game.
Is it important to have a favourite shot? What was yours then?
My favourite shot in my game is Backhand topspin and I enjoy playing it every time.
What was your longest rally?
I have had a lot of long rallies, but generally a long rally in matches is very rare as Table Tennis is a fast and spontaneous game. It is this aspect of the sport that makes every long rally I've had, favorite and special to me.
Table tennis is a very fast game. Do you get time to analyse within a match?
Yes, it is possible. We can analyse to some extent during the match itself by figuring out what's going on and correcting it immediately.
If the opponent has taken a sizeable lead, what is your approach? Try and play safe or take the risky route and be ultra-aggressive?
My game plan would be to not get carried away and I stick to it. And so what may come the situation is, I try and stick to my game plan and try to keep getting better at it .
Honors and accomplishments that you are most proud of?
Of course, donning the Indian Jersey and representing my Country (India) in various International tournaments across the world has always been a proud moment for me that I would always cherish as my favorite.
What do you think are some of the most important skills for a table tennis player to have in order to reach the highest level?
Footwork is inevitable and very important in table tennis and it makes a huge difference in the game. concentrating on it and getting it right can add on to anybody's game and take it to the next level.
What are your future plans as far as table tennis goes? Do you hope to continue training through your school/college years and beyond?
Yes, I am continuing to play table tennis even after my school and college days and I will continue playing further.
Spin or speed? Spin
TV Show: Friends
Most ignored, yet important practice drill? Service
What is your favorite food? Pizza