Table tennis star Yashaswini Ghorpade: Few words, big deeds

After a tough start to her career, the 15-year-old paddler in October finished fifth in singles at the World Cadet Challenge, the acme of her achievements.

Yashaswini Ghorpade is a girl of few words. But in the last year or so, the 15-year-old paddler from Karnataka has proved she is one of the big deeds.   -  K MURALI KUMAR

Yashaswini Ghorpade is a girl of few words. But in the last year or so, the 15-year-old paddler from Karnataka has proved she is one of the big deeds.

At the sub-junior Nationals in Chandigarh last December, she won the singles and doubles golds. She was then part of the Indian team that won four golds at the Bahrain Open (February). Last week she clinched the UTT West Zone National-Ranking singles title in Thane.

The acme of her achievements, however, came in October when she finished a creditable fifth in the singles category at the World Cadet Challenge in Poland. She was the only Indian in the Asian squad at that tournament and helped the team secure a bronze.

“It has been a memorable journey and I consider the World Cadet performance as my best effort so far,” said Yashaswini, who is now the India No.2 in juniors. “Playing against different international players has been a great learning experience. I want to build on that.”

Yashaswini had a tough beginning to her career. A series of morale-sapping first-round defeats in the initial years had almost led her to give up the sport. But she persisted, with help from parents Geeta and Deepak Ghorpade and her school Bangalore International Academy.

Swift transformation

No less is the role of her coach Anshuman Roy, a former India international. “I decided to shift my focus completely on her at our academy,” Roy said. “It was a case of now or never. She had the potential to play for India. So I took the call to dedicate my entire team to her. Now she has great exposure from her international tours and the National camps have boosted her confidence.”

So swift has the transformation been that she is now supported by Airports Authority of India (AAI), has an equipment sponsor in Hong Kong-based Xiom and a clothing sponsor in Mumbai-based Spinart. But Yashaswini remains hungrier than ever.

“I watched PV Sindhu on the podium at the World Championship and I want to be like her,” she said. “She is my idol and my biggest influence. My long-term target is to get to that level.”