Vaishali: a class apart

In a sport hijacked by the ‘high and the mighty,’ Vaishali Khasherao Phadtare is just 170 cms tall. Her stature on the volleyball firmament is imposing, as much as her presence on court is intimidating to the rivals.

As a splendid setter, around whom the game revolves, she’s quite a scheming playmaker too. If she’s quick on her feet, she’s even swifter with her moves. Lightning reflexes enable her to disguise drops with near perfection, her nudges over the net invariably finding empty spaces on the opponent’s turf.

Leading Central Railways in the recent National volleyball league in Nellore, she was the cynosure. Barking orders by the minute, she had team-mates swiftly swinging into action. The authority she commanded ensured complete compliance of her dictates.

Captaincy is not new to her, as she has donned that mantle for the national team from 1995. A recipient of the Maharashtra State Shivaji Chatrapathi award for sports, the 35-year-old from Pune led the country to triumph four times in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games. She struck gold first in the mini-nationals in Guwahati and has played in the senior national championships since 1988.