Howdy readers! I have a special treat for you all today. I had the pleasure of interviewing a young, professional, Tennis star, who has aced his 14 year tennis career- pun intended.
Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan is a 24 year old, U.S. Business school graduate and a professional tennis player who represented India in the 2013 Davis Cup, The World Cup of Tennis. In 2013, he held an Indian National Rank of No. 13 and an International Tennis Federation (ITF) rank of No. 810, which is no easy feat! Incidentally, he is the son of Mr. T. Vijayaragavan, who was the Captain of the Indian National Basketball team in the 1970s. Mr. T. Vijayaragavan won the prestigious Arjuna award in 1978 for his extraordinary contribution in basketball, with only 16 other awardees in total who have also earned this meritorious award in basketball. The super-genes certainly run in the family! In the competitive world of sports; brains, sweat, muscle, and an ounce of luck serve as key ingredients in the formula of success. The Vijayaragavans certainly have mastered the recipe. Here’s what our young, Tennis star has to say about his life, tennis and his journey:
Surely, Sherley: Mr. Ashwin V., how long have you been playing tennis?
Ashwin: “I started tennis at the age of 10, but quit in between to play cricket till the age of 12. Then I went back to Tennis, which ended up being my first love.”
Surely, Sherley: What first inspired you to start up tennis?
Ashwin: “I always went along with my brother to watch tennis, there was something about the game which interested me, and so I just decided to hold a racquet one day and never wanted to put it down. I still have it in my hand,” he grins, pulling out his racquet.
Surely, Sherley: When did you realize you wanted to pursue tennis competitively?
Ashwin: “It was when I was finishing my under 14’s division. I was No.1 in the country [India] already, in the under 14 ‘s division, but I really didn’t think I had in me. Then, my parents saw my potential before I did, and they nudged me to go one more step. So that’s where it started and I started enjoying it and loved every challenge that was put in front of me.”
Surely, Sherley: What is on your mind when you are on the court during a match?
Ashwin: “Many things. First thing that comes in mind is how to play with a particular opponent. Sometimes negative thoughts do come but I listen to music for a while and get it out of my head. Then on court it’s basically how I deal with each situation. I keep telling myself to stay calm and positive even If it’s the worst day of my life.”
Surely, Sherley: How do you prepare in terms of training for any particular match?
Ashwin: “If I am going to compete, say in 2 weeks, I make sure I get in a lot of match play which keeps me sharp. And physically, I try to do a lot of sprints and keep my legs moving.”
Surely, Sherley: Tell me about your experience being a part of the Davis Cup team, representing India, internationally.
Ashwin: “It was an amazing experience. I was sitting in front of my computer when I got a call from the federation, they said, ‘Hey Ashwin, you available for the Davis cup tie?’ I was blank for a second and I said, ‘Yes!’ Then I ran to parents, who were in the other room, and told them about it. They were all extremely excited and then it was announced on TV. It was an amazing feeling. Then when I went for the training, the treatment I got and the respect every Davis cupper got was just unbelievable. I got to interact with my childhood favorite, Mr. Leander Paes, and it was something very special.”
Surely, Sherley: Have you worked with any Tennis legends?
Ashwin: “I haven’t worked with any, but during the Davis Cup tie, I got to interact with greats like Mr. Amritraj and Mr. Akthar Ali. And, of course, Mr. Leander Paes.”
Surely, Sherley: Have you trained with any Tennis legends?
Ashwin: “I trained with Mr. Novak Djokovic in Los Angles, U.S.A. couple years back. It was unreal; it clearly showed how much I needed to work to reach even close to his level.”
Surely, Sherley: How many matches have you played since you first started tennis?
Ashwin: “Well I cannot remember the number exactly but easily around 500 matches or more!”
Surely, Sherley: As a professional Tennis player, you must be travelling quite a lot. What countries have you traveled to for matches?
Ashwin: “I have been around Asia like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and in Europe I have been to Spain. And, in the Americas, United States, of course.”
Surely, Sherley: What countries have you traveled to for training?
Ashwin: “Mainly Spain.”
Surely, Sherley: What is your greatest strength in tennis on the court?
Ashwin: “My quickness on court and my forehand. Plus my ability to stay in the point longer play to my strengths.”
Surely, Sherley: What do you feel you need to improve, in regards to your game?
Ashwin: “I need to have a specialized play, which can make me win points more easily.”
Surely, Sherley: What are your Tennis dreams?
Ashwin: “My first major dream was to be part of the Davis cup team, and I’m very happy I was able to attain that.”
Surely, Sherley: Who is your favorite Tennis player?
Ashwin: “Roger Federer. His game is just great to watch and the feat he has achieved I don’t think is easy to match.”
Surely, Sherley: What is your current education? And, what do you plan on pursing professionally?
Ashwin: “I have graduated with a finance degree (BBA), from the University of Texas Pan American. My plan is to get my MBA and then, start a tennis academy which has been my lifelong dream as I want to give something back to the game, “ he says with a smile.
Surely, Sherley: How has Tennis affected you and your life?
Ashwin: “It has made me a different person. It has taught me to handle pressure, as the pressure we face is not a joke. It has taught me that mainly, and I am a person who knows how to handle pressure now, due to its influence.”
Surely, Sherley: How has having an Indian Basketball legend as your father inspired you personally and professionally?
Ashwin: “It’s a blessing in disguise, as you get to learn a lot from his achievements and he has always told me never to go after result, just believe in perfection and success will follow you.”
Surely, Sherley: What would you like to say to your fans? And to the aspiring Tennis generation?
Ashwin: “Thanks for being there for me and believing in me when the going got tough. It’s not easy to fight a battle alone on court. I think all your prayers and blessing are the reason where I am today. To the youngsters out there, don’t give up when the going gets tough. Belief is what takes you through the distance. Enjoy what you do, if you don’t enjoy, don’t try to enjoy it. Do what you think is right.”
Surely, Sherley: What do you think are important tips to consider when starting up Tennis professionally?
Ashwin: “There are many things, you need to be clear what you want, this is a game for those who want to sacrifice a lot of things. If they are willing to do that, then they are on the right track, then there is the training part. Always try to look for an academy which will provide you with the best training.”
Surely, Sherley: Thanks, Mr. Ashwin for sharing with us your Tennis experiences, we as fans would like to know about your non-Tennis pursuits as well. What are your hobbies?
Ashwin: “I enjoy reading books, writing, watching movies, spending time with family and friends.”
Surely, Sherley: Tell me about your interest in writing. What are your dreams in that regard?
Ashwin: I have always liked writing, and I started writing a blog which talks about the daily happenings around the world and some interesting stories I’ve written. I especially liked crime stories, since I was a child, so I have started writing crime stories. I recently wrote three stories. I have entered one for a competition. Hope people get to read it. It’s called, ‘Case of a stolen sword.’ Hopefully I can write a book in the future.”
Surely, Sherley: That’s fantastic, what are you current projects?
Ashwin: “As I had mentioned, my short story, “Case of a Stolen Sword,’ was my recent story. It’s a story where a young man who wants to make a mark in the media world tries to help the cops in solving a case. It’s posted on Tallenge.com. It’s been published for the competition where the voting closes in 9 days. Hopefully the readers will like my story, ” he says humbly.
Surely, Sherley: Would you tell me about your blog?
Ashwin: “It’s about the day to day happenings and about the recent elections followed by the IPL, some parts I find to be interesting. You can follow me on wordpress.com, name is changetheworld2014.”
Well, thank you Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan for this interesting, and pleasurable interview! Wishing you all the best in your Tennis, Business, and writing careers! It was an absolute treat interviewing you today.
Dear readers, thank you for the read, and be sure to check out Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan’s short story here, which currently holds the No. 1 rank in the world at Tallenge.com. Be sure to cast your vote for this young Star.
Pictured, is a shot I took of a Ferris Wheel during a carnival event that was held in Brownsville, Texas back in March, 2014. The thick, gray, clouds behind the bright, vibrant, Ferris Wheel makes this shot so hauntingly beautiful to me.