Sanil Shetty and Reeth Rishiya have been fine-tuning their game under the tutelage of Aman Balgu, a former SAF Games gold medallist and twice National Games medallist, at the A. V. Sporting Centre in Kondapur near here.
Both paddlers are members of the Indian squad for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Sanil, a member of the men’s team that won gold in the Commonwealth Games in 2018, will be competing in the men’s singles and doubles events while Reeth will be playing women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles.
“They have been training with me for four years. In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, the emphasis is on all-round improvement,” Aman, who is also an Inspector in the Income Tax Department, told Sportstar.
Commenting on Sanil, he said, “Sanil is a very aggressive player and the only lefty in the Indian squad. Predominantly forehand player. So, we are focussing on countering the threat of the opponents who apparently will try to break his rhythm. We are working a lot to see that he sustains the rhythm longer.”
‘Grit and determination’
Reeth has a tendency to falter under pressure, felt Aman.
“For Reeth, this is her first Commonwealth Games. For a couple of years, she was out of the top 16 in the country. Now, backed by hours of training and commitment, she is in the top three. That she featured in five finals of the seven national ranking tournaments in the recent past is a tribute to her grit and determination. She is an all-round player but sometimes has a tendency to falter under pressure. We are working on this grey area of concern. She has the strokes to beat anyone on her day,” Aman said.
Aman and Somnath Ghosh — who trains another Sreeja, another member of the Indian squad — regularly conduct in-house competitions to keep working consistently on the strengths and weaknesses. “We have a terrific rapport, and since Sreeja and Reetha are playing women’s doubles, it helps a lot in the preparations,” Aman said.
Reeth said her reason to decide to train with Aman was that she always wanted to train under a coach who puts 100 per cent in her.
Sanil said Aman helped him regain his confidence and form when he was struggling years ago.
“Aman himself being an aggressive player, we gel together really well during training sessions. I won’t say I am tense but it is a different feeling this being my first stint with the Indian team and that, too, for Commonwealth Games. Of course, every player will have pressure because in 2018, our women’s team won gold, and this time, three of us are new and Manika will lead. So yes, we are prepared to bring back gold home. I am expecting three medals in the four events I am competing in (team, singles, mixed and doubles),” signed off a confident Sanil.