Sankar Muthuswamy: Aiming big

From being an out and out defensive player in his u-13 days to a more attacking player now, Sankar Muthuswamy has modified his game.

Making rapid strides: Sankar Muthuswamy in action at the Fireball Badminton Academy in Chennai.   -  K. PICHUMANI

Age: 14

Education: Std IX

From: Chennai

Mentor: Aravindan Samiappan

Favourite players: Lin Dan and K. Srikanth

Aim: To win the men’s world championship and represent India in Olympics

Beginning: I started playing badminton in the year 2009. Earlier, I was playing tennis for a while. I used to get upset whenever I missed practice due to rain. I wanted to play an indoor sport and hence I chose badminton. It all started in 2009, at the Fireball Badminton Academy under Aravindan [Samiappan] Sir.

My first tournament, I remember, was an open (u-10) tournament in Chennai in 2011. Two years later, I won my first medal. It was the State-ranking tournament in Dharmapuri where I won gold. Then, at Sivakasi in the same year, I won gold again.

Taking tips: Sankar Muthuswamy with his coach Aravind.   -  K. PICHUMANI

What they say

Aravindan (mentor): I remember Sankar’s first training session at my academy. Since there were around 20-30 people and few courts, I asked him to do wall practice. He might have been 6.5 years of age. For that age, his focus was amazing.

Father (Muthusamy): We want him to represent India in the Olympics one day. He is very sincere and is inclined towards sports.

Strength: He has great rallying ability and solid defence. Moreover, his precise footwork and economical movements make him cover the court quickly. Since he doesn’t put any strain in movements, he has more time to play his shots. His attack is slowly getting better. From being an out and out defensive player in his u-13 days to a more attacking player now, he has modified his game. He smashes and drives more and all that has made him a potent force.

Weakness: He has to improve his forehand on the front side as compared to the other three corners. He can dribble well but has to improve his re-dribble. It is a different kind of skill, one which can give him more attacking opportunities. As you grow up, in the boys’ section, pure defence will not help you in any way. He has always been a fit player. Being at Quantum Leap Performance by former India trainer Ramji Srinivasan has improved his fitness.

Focus area: He has to be more powerful in smashes and his approach to the front court, from the back, needs to be looked into.

Growth: It has been very good. His strokes have gradually improved. Being a naturally gifted left-handed stroke-maker, he is a treat to watch on any day. Earlier, he had a similar trajectory and pace and his opponents sensed it. Gradually, he changed it by introducing whip shots to his arsenal and started playing more drives, which he never used to play. The transformation was quick.

CAREER GRAPH:

Major achievements:

2017: He won the boys’ singles title in the National-ranking u-15 tournaments in Kakinada and Tirupur.

In the National-ranking tournament in Goa, he won bronze and in the National championship in Tenali, he again won a bronze. He finished 2017 as India No. 1.

2018: He finished runner-up twice in boys’ singles in the National ranking u-15 tournaments in Gulbarga and Hyderabad.

He won the u-15 singles bronze in the Jaya Raya International Junior Grand Prix in Jakarta. Currently he is India No. 2 in u-15.