A few months ago Gayatri Rajesh Menon was a very worried girl. The State women’s tennis champion had taken a break from tournaments early this year to focus on her X standard exams and felt the time away from the circuit would play havoc with her National rankings.
But, life took some strange twists and turns. The coronavirus pandemic proved to be a blessing in disguise. The National competition calendar went for a toss, tournaments were cancelled and now it looks like the 17-year-old has not missed much.
“I thought my ranking (currently 138) would go really down, but then ‘luckily’ there was this stoppage due to corona. I kept my fitness going throughout the break so my game is still the same, it has not suffered,” said Gayatri, Kerala’s youngest women’s champion, in a chat with The Hindu here.
The long lockdown saw her try out a few things.
“I took up kalari, it has made me very flexible, helps improve my stability, reflexes and endurance,” she said.
Now, from one tennis session a week Gayatri has moved to four. “That’s because we could have tournaments coming up. I’m ready for them, I can go and play tomorrow, if necessary, because I’ve worked on my fitness,” she said.
Gayatri, who is in open school, plays mostly with veterans and that has added some wonderful weapons to her armoury.
“I play with Dr. Sanjay Cherian, Tom Edward, Prakash Aswani, P.V. Timothy and Joseph. They give me a lot of advice and strategies. That has also improved my mental approach. Earlier I just used to go out and just play, now I use my mind more, almost playing a strategical game,” she said.
“I practise the sets with Nirupama at the Regional Sports Centre here and she tells me whether I’m better. She’s the board that tells me whether I’m going up or down. I’m waiting to try out all those mental strategies in my next tournament.”