Tennis player,scholar, aspiring sports manager - this is Aayushi Chouhan's story

The story of a young girl from Raipur whose love for tennis signposted her towards academics.

Aayushi Chouhan who won the NCAA Career Development award in the US.   -  Special arrangement

Raipur in Chhattisgarh has hosted many national and international tennis events, including the Champions League, featuring international stars. However, imagining the possibility of a girl from the place making an impact in the US Collegiate circuit (NCAA), and building the base for a career in sports administration is more than anyone realistically indulges in.

Aayushi Chouhan, who graduated from the Delaware State University recently, has done just that by winning the NCAA’s Career Development award for student athletes.

‘’Tennis gave me an identity and an opportunity to succeed in life. I never knew that I could do well in academics along with tennis until I came to US’’, said Aayushi.

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‘’I have always dreamt of working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it is the most prestigious sports organisation in the world. That made me choose sports management as a career, even before I came to the US, " she explaied.

Her penchant for working with personalities from different countries drew her towards management in sport.

"From the time I played under-12 and 14 events, I was interested in seeing how the referee conducted the tournament. I soon realised that I wanted to be in the administrative side of sports’’, she said.

"I was the first student-athlete from Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to receive this award. NCAA selects one male and one female candidate every year for this award’’, said Aayushi.

As a result of the honour, she was able to attend the Careers in Sports Forum in Indianapolis.

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"I, along with 200 talented student athletes, was selected to attend. We had college sports administrators from different universities. The experience was very helpful as I am currently working in intercollegiate athletics. It was conducted at the NCAA’s Headquarters where I hope to work in the near future. ", she said.

The accolade also helped her attend the Accelerating Academic Success Program in New Orleans. The awards covered her travel and stay for the two conferences, an experience Chouhan terms as priceless.

"This Program had about 200 sports administrators. It focused on us identifying our own core values, strengths, identity, leadership qualities, and many other aspects which will help us in future to become good sports administrators. The NCAA paid for my travel, boarding and lodging for these two conferences in Indianapolis and New Orleans. The experience was priceless’’, she remarked.

Chouhan began as a paddler, playing the game since she was five years old, moving to tennis eventually. She owes that to her father, Rupendra Singh Chouhan, who coached her then too. She would travel across the country for tournaments with her mother Bhawna.

Aayushi then diversified into soft tennis, that saw her compete in the World Championship. She also represented Chattisgarh in the National Games in Kerala.

She then moved to Delaware State University in January 2016, on a full scholarship from the then coach Dave Marshall, who currently coaches the Bryan brothers. With an impressive 3.94 GPA, she graduated with Summa Cum Laude Distinction, the highest academic grade.

"I was the sports management departmental scholar for three consecutive years and was also awarded the Most Valuable Player award for 2019," she adds.  Aayushi also represented her University in the National Football League (NFL) Careers in Football Forum in Atlanta and won the first ever Business Case Study competition.

Looking ahead, Aayushi plans to join Morgan State University in Baltimore as a full-time Athletics Compliance staff. She also intends to begin enrolling for a Master's degree next year.