Image Credits: Nikhil
Chennai is like a conveyor belt of talent as they seem to produce paddlers with big potential every year. Nikhil Suresh is one of them.
The 21-year-old causing quite the buzz around the state and beyond right now.
Nikhil currently training at DRA ITTC, has become a key player for Tamil Nadu side – but he admits, there’s still so much to come.
How did TT happen? Did you play any other sports growing up? And how would you define your journey till now?
My parents put me on to the sport since I was watching way too much television right before I turned 5. My dad’s close friend was running a Table Tennis center close to our place and I was put there. I somehow liked the sport from the beginning as there were a lot of kids from my age group and we used to travel and play tournaments together. Once I started performing in the U-10 category, things changed everything got more competitive from there.
Other than table tennis, I did play a lot of football during my school days for the school team and I still play with some of my friends when time permits.
Who was your favorite player growing up? They’re probably still playing.
I enjoyed watching G.Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal growing up and yes, they’re still playing.
What makes table tennis so attractive to you?
I’ve played the sport long enough to like almost every aspect about it. The fact that it keeps evolving over time and that things have been getting more and more technical over time makes it very attractive for me.
Competing at such a young age, how did you juggle studies with sport? And how supportive is your school/college when it comes to TT and other sports?
Well, I have to think the educational institution for helping me juggle studies with sports, right from my schooling in Bala Vidya Mandir, Adyar, Undergraduation in Loyola College, Chennai and MBA in SRM IST.
All these institutions have played a huge part in helping me juggle studies with sports as they’ve granted me permission to miss a huge number of classes and always encouraged me to take up sports and often held separate tests and deadlines for sportsmen like me. When an educational institution helps you and encourages your sporting endeavors, it pushes often pushes you to keep education and sports in a parallel direction.
If you are a relatively calm and quiet player. Do you think this beneficial to your game? Does it bother you when your opponent is very loud and vis-à-vis?
Haha yes, I’m a relatively calm and quiet player. It does help me keep my cool during my game. Sometimes, it does bother me when my opponent is very loud, but definitely not every time.
I'm sure there are times during your training that you aren't achieving the results that you want. What do you do to lift your spirits during such times?
My coaches, R Rajesh and Raja.R.S keep reminding me to focus on the process and it reminds me the kind of progress I’ve achieved in the past only through the process and thereby lift my spirits.
There are times when you’re really frustrated and I resort to turning the latter part of the session to play some simple and easy strokes I’ve loved playing back when I was 7 or 8 years old (lobbing or defense) and I also rely on football to take the heat of table tennis sometimes.
Backhand, forehand, serve, volley – which comes easier to you?
I’d say volley, but we can’t do that in table tennis. Forehand comes easier to me.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on and off court?
There was this one time I had to go take a leak right when the game was about to start, like right after the toss when the game was about to begin.
How much of a mental aspect it involved in table tennis?
The mental aspect to the sport is often overlooked. Table tennis is very fast game. It gets over before you even realize. It’s very essential to focus on the mental aspect of the sport to be able to grab opportunities and sustain.
What goes through your mind when you have just lost a point?
Hit the reset button and focus on the next point.
What was your longest rally?
We actually never keep track of this since it’s a very fast sport. It has to be against one of the defensive paddler I have encountered in the past.
Do you have a favorite win?
Yes, I’ll always remember my first state ranking win in Kothagiri back when I was 9 years old.
Many people see Table tennis as an “easy sport”, what do you have to say about that?
I’d love to put them in summer training camps. Merely explaining it to them would be pointless.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the distant future?
I prefer to stick to my short-term target of making it to the Commonwealth Games.
Imagine that you are fighting for the gold at the upcoming Olympics Games. If you could get anyone in the world, from the past or the present, to coach you for that match, who would it be? Why?
My Coach, Rajesh since he’ll keep it simple and help me address one issue at a time and he’s always fantastic with formulating match strategies.
Non-TT players that you admire the most?
Wayne Rooney, Roger Federer, Senna
Which is your favorite social network?
Instagram and Pinterest
What do you prefer: training or the end result?
We always love the end result, but we got to stick to the training to get to it.
Dream Mixed Doubles Partner
I’m not sure of a dream mixed doubles partner. It would definitely be dream to have Timo Boll as my doubles partner.
What is your go-to shot?
I love my down the line forehand ace services. Quick counter loops are my go to shot.