College is demanding enough without the intensive and crammed schedule of tennis sports. For Akankshya, her week is infinitely more strenuous but it has taught her a lot about team spirit, sportsmanship spirit, and the grit involved in playing a match.

Akankshya Mishra, who is currently studying at BITS Pilani, Goa, is one of a nearly dozen Indian teenagers charting their way through the college tennis circuit.  An ardent fan of Serena William, Akankshya has found many people that she look up to and feel inspired by, both on the tennis court and out of it. She started to play tennis when she was just 10 years old. Over the years, she has played both singles and doubles matches but she prefer playing singles, because of the rush ones get going solo against an opponent.

Find out more about the youngster experiences on the sport, her expectations in the coming year and her ultimate career goal.

When did you first get the realisation that you were good at this sport and want to take this up further?

Definitely as a kid I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I realised around the age of 10 that lawn tennis was a sport that I loved playing and I have been involved with it ever since. It’s only when you get older that you realise that life is a little more complicated than that.

Do you play singles, doubles, or both? Do you prefer one over the other?

I have played both singles and doubles matches over the years. I prefer playing singles, because of the rush you get going solo against an opponent.

How do you balance academics and tennis? Is this difficult?

Yes, it’s quite difficult, sometimes, to manage my academics and tennis together. Many extra lectures have been missed for the sake of practice and morning classes been slept through due to fatigue. But at the end of the day, it’s a lesson in time management, and I have learned how to maintain a schedule and keep a healthy balance.

BITS Pilani, Goa tennis team

What is the difference between your college tennis experience and your school tennis experience?

At the school level, I played tennis as a hobby. It was great fun and I have made great friends with people playing alongside with me.

College is the first time that I have been part of a team and it has taught me a lot about team spirit, sportsmanship spirit, and the grit involved in playing a match. I have found many people I look up to and feel inspired by, both on the tennis court and out of it.

What do you consider strengths and weaknesses in your game?

I will consider a lack of consistency as a weakness in my game, and it has tripped me over many times. As my strength, I consider my discipline and endurance which I am still focusing on improving upon.

Who do you think is the best tennis player today?

Serena Williams, hands down. She’s an inspiration.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

I am interested in getting to do something novel and innovative in technology someday.

Which match in your career are you most proud of?

In my first year, I played a match against an opponent with whom I was then evenly-matched. It took almost 4 hours before that game ended, and a few times in the middle, the score was misinterpreted due to communication errors. Although I was beyond exhausted, and the score was being misinterpreted towards my benefit, I disagreed with the referee to set the score right and continued through a more exhausting few hours. I am still proud that I maintained that sense of justice through the game, and would willingly do the same thing again.

Is tennis more of a physical game or mind game? How do you see it?

I would say that any sport involves a physical aspect, and it features strongly in tennis-where stamina is tantamount. But a lot can happen during a match, and it’s important to be able to deal with the stress during it. One’s willpower is really tested in a game, especially one even-matched.

Moreover, intuition also matters to think about how your opponent may be approaching the match and help you break their strategy during it.

How do you prepare for a match on tournament/tour? Do you have your own rituals?

I mainly focus on my stamina and endurance before a tournament which is crucial during a match. I have no particular rituals; really, I just eagerly wait for matches to start.

So what are your goals BOSM 2018?

The goal in mind for BOSM 2018 is to give 100% to every minute that I am on the court and to ensure my teammates do the same. I want to ensure that we all gain as much as we can from this BOSM in terms of our own satisfaction.

The game is always more important than winning or losing, and each moment playing it should be a memorable experience.

What’s your favorite sport apart from tennis, and why?

I have no particular attachment to other sports, but I have always loved Dodgeball since my school days. It is a fun as well as exciting game, and although I don’t have much chance to play it nowadays, I would love to get people together and play it again.

And finally, what is the best experience or single memory of your college time that you will take home with you?

College has been a great learning experience for me, and I still have a lot to go. My best experience has always been with the friends that I’ve made amongst the people around me and I treasure that as the greatest memory from college.

Rapid Fire

Dream Mixed Doubles Partner: Rafael Nadal

Favorite Surface: Clay

Favorite shot: Overhead

Celebrity Crush: Rafael Nadal

The song that’s been on loop for you recently: Sasha Sloan – Normal

Cricket or football: Cricket

 


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