Image Credits: ITTF
Unlike most of the players, Suhana Saini found her true calling in table tennis earlier in life and held a paddle in her hand for the first time at the age of three.
Ironically, she hated Table Tennis at first, it took her some time and a story to acquire a taste for it. And when she got that and she hasn’t looked back since then.
After winning the gold at ITTF Oman Open in 2018 followed by another Gold at West Zone Nationals, Sub-Junior category, always high on confidence, paddler Suhana is making big progress.
She is India’s number 1 in U-15 category and one of the key players in Haryana.
This young star-in-the-making talks to Fisto Sports about her life, family, school, TT and of course, her favorite paddler.
Read the excerpts from the interview:
I'm sure lots and lots of hours of deliberate practice have gone into becoming what you’re today. Are you satisfied with the your journey so far? What are you currently working on? And, what's next?
Yes, to become good at what you do you have to put in a lot of hours, but of equal importance, these hours have to be dedicated to the right type of work. However, I'm not satisfied with what I am today. Sky is the limit for anyone in any field. I'm trying to improve my agility now. Next, I'll combine agility with technical practice.
It’s been a crazy few month, what have you been up to? Tell us how you have been spending your time & what precautions are you taking to battle this virus?
I haven't stepped out of my house since 23rd March. I'm just trying to keep myself fit physically and mentally. Also taking a good diet so that I don't gain weight.
What are the two activities you enjoy the most during the lockdown?
Drawing and doing things related to Table Tennis like shadow, fitness, service practice so that I stay in touch with Table Tennis.
Who is your favorite international table tennis player, from past or present? Why?
Actually, there is not only one as it keeps on changing but presently my favorite is Sharath Kamal (IND), Hugo Calderano (Brazil), Sun Yingsha (China). I like their playing style and I try to pick some good things from their playing style, their routines, of course attitude on the table and off the table.
From past my favorite player was Manika Batra but as soon as I realized that her playing style is totally opposite and I can't relate then I changed my mind.
Is there one person that has played a significant role in your success? If so, how?
My parents because they have helped me to overcome pressure and pushing me at times when I didn't want to go to train or anything in life also motivating me after I have lost in a match.
Great! Let's go back to when it all began ... Tell us about how you started with table tennis.
My parents were TT players who used to participate in national level tournaments. My mom was running a private TT Academy at that time. She used to participate in national championships and she would take her students too along with her. She was 10 times state champion and watching her playing, winning trophies, medals and what not which sparked my interest in the game of table tennis.
Actually, I started playing at the very young age of 3 but used to hate Table Tennis. It seemed boring to me but as soon as I learned to play basics properly at the age of 7 or 8. Gradually my mother's downfall started because she started spending more time in coaching. First and last time when she lost in state championships semi-final and left playing the sport. That incident made me competitive and eventually she worked hard on me and I defeated the same girl next year from whom my mom had lost. From then on I never looked back.
Some players are very animated when they win a point. Do you think it is better to cho/animated or stay quiet.
Do you have a "go-to" strategy to keep yourself calm at a critical point in a game?
Yes, and it’s kind of funny because some of my classmates were state level players and when I go to school and meet them they are like ‘Oh we can defeat you easily but then they are like just kidding! You are doing great and that keeps me motivated.’
How supportive are your college when it comes to TT?
My school (Scholars Rosary Sr. Sec. School, Rohtak, Haryana) has been very supportive in terms of table tennis and studies. I just gave 10th CBSE board exams in March and they provided all the study material. I came back from Sweden on 24th February and gave exam on 26th February. I didn't even go to school for whole year. I didn't see my classroom. I met my classmates directly at another school where I had to write exam. Truly, their support of my school made me stronger in my resolve to pursue TT and select this career with a straight mind.
What impact has coach Rajesh had on your TT career on and off of it?
Rajesh sir is my favorite person, mentor, and coach and I would say he is just like my mom. He has been supportive and has helped to reach every higher step throughout these years. And he continuously pushes me to be better on and off the field. I can blindly trust him. Under his guidance I'm sure I'll achieve my final goal one day!
Do you have an on-table rivalry?
Every player in this world do have an on-table rivalry. No mercy!
If you could spend a day talking to and training with any player or coach from the past or present, who would it be and why?
Sun Yingsha because she's 2018 youth Olympics champion.
Is there one moment in your career that brings a smile to your face?
Every moment I spend playing Table Tennis.
Best chance to win - Player with skills or Player with confidence?
Player with confidence
Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
Take a towel break every 6 points, or not?
Mostly, so yes!
More drills or more practice matches?
Favourite foods and are you a good cook?
Rajma rice, chocolate truffle, Icecream. I'm actually learning to cook from my mother.