Most of us think it’s tough to cope with multi-tasking especially when you’re working in a corporate sector and your passion is something really out of blues. Seriously not a cup of tea! But, a young corporate employee Visakh VS has proved himself as a living testament by leading his way to become one of the finest tennis players of the present generation. Working in HSBC as a project manager after completing his Electronics Engineering; Visakh never missed out any opportunity to show flashes of brilliance in Tennis. Visakh has been the junior state champion of Kerala for five consecutive years and has stolen the heart of tennis lovers many times with his eye-catching performances at various national and state level corporate tournaments. With his fantastic footwork and playing strategies, Visakh has emerged out as one of the finest tennis players on whom the nation proudly looks upon to bring accolades on international stages. Visakh has also completed his Level 1 certified coaches program from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is now working on his dream to train the burgeoning tennis players in the future to bring accolades for the country. While sharing his thoughts with the team of Sportmatik.com; Visakh expressed his immense love for tennis and other sports in which he really wants to do something great and briefed his journey as a tennis player who belongs to the corporate sector of India. Let’s have a quick glimpse at the success story of this tennis alchemist of the Indian corporate sector.
What was the triggering moment when you realise about your passion for tennis?
I started playing tennis at the age of 10, and it took me more than a year to get in that. I won my first competition at the age of 12 which was my first tennis state championship. That’s when I realised my true calling for the game. Now it’s been 22 years playing tennis. My father is the one who guided me into tennis. I started playing Hockey at the age of 9. Then I moved to athletics and used to sprint and do the long jump and other athletic disciplines as well. Initially, I didn’t quite like tennis. But, slowly and steadily I practised & started liking it. It came as a surprise when I won the Kerala State Junior Championship. That was the very first tournament that I actually played. The destiny favoured me, and I managed amongst the winners.
You were also good in hockey but you switched to tennis. Did you miss hockey?
I’m actually not missing hockey because I like tennis a lot. If I don’t play tennis for 2-3 days, I feel exhausted. It’s not because of any particular reason or injury that I quit hockey, but because I like tennis more than hockey, Meanwhile, I also play other sports as well; like football. I am the captain of HSBC football team and also manage a professional team Friends F.C. who plays in the Hyderabad Football League (HFL). I used to play badminton and also table tennis. In fact, my sister was a district-level table tennis player. I played almost all other games and am quite decent in them. It’s just that I wanted to be decent at whatever I do or play. So I put in hours to practice and become perfect in that.
Who is your role model?
During my childhood days, I have always looked up to and followed Indian tennis player Leander Paes and as an icon; I look up to Roger Federer as my role model or idol.
What was the role of your parents in your sports career?
My father played an integral part, and he is the one who has introduced me to the game. He used to be a badminton player and also a great swimmer. Other than him, all my family members stood like a rock to support my sports career; especially my mother and wife. They all are really a key support system for me.
How do you manage your job and sports together?
Ah! Don’t ask me (smiling). It’s not at all easy. I think it is one of the hardest things to do, but it is made possible if you have a family backing you on every single day and an organisation who believes in the healthiest human system because working in corporate means that you have to stick to office hours and have to keep the commitments. Hence, taking up time for more practices is a little challenging for me. So what I used to do is to plan my day in advance, prioritise my tasks and obviously with the support of my family; I still try and ensure that I spent at least 2-3 hours a day for my training which is the ultimate way to be in shape. It has helped me to play the competitive tournaments in the country. I try to take my family with me whenever I go for practice sessions or tournaments so that I don’t miss them much. So family support is the key factor behind my success and if you need to pursue your passion, then you have to have a robust support system around you.
Describe your philosophy on discipline?
Discipline starts from the time when you invest in things. During my playing days; I remember, I used to spend a lot of time in practice. I used to wake up very early, go to school, come back from school and then go for practice again. It wasn’t so easy along with studies but I made it possible because of the goals that I had in my mind; I had an evident vision and used to be much disciplined as well and wanted to invest in things that could help me in longer terms.
Which sport would you choose if not tennis?
Umm!! That’s very tricky one to answer. I am not sure if I would have played any game. But if it is not tennis then probably I would have picked up golf or badminton and not definitely cricket because India is a cricket loving nation and my father wanted me to break the stereotype. I still love to watch cricket though occasionally.
Define yourself in one word/phrase.
“Pursuit for greatness”
With whom you had the most exciting match ever?
If I remember correctly; the most exciting match that I played was when I beat a senior player in the junior nationals. So I never expected to win in the tournament. In fact; neither my coach nor any one of my fellow tennis players expected me to win. That win has even featured in the articles of the top newspapers of the country, so it’s always a special one. So for me, that’s still the best win. And then I had another win in the tournament when I played the state under-16 finals. That player and I competed in the finals most of the time. We played a marathon match once for around 3 hours, and it was special to come out on top at the end of the day.
As a tennis player, what qualities one should primarily have?
Perseverance, hard work, and ability to see things positively. These are the three qualities one should have to achieve victory; bringing lots of opportunities. Besides this, one should play the game with all his passion and competitiveness. The qualities that I have got from this amazing game are helping me in my professional life as well.
What is the role of media in a sportsperson’s life?
In the current generation, I think media plays a significant role in either making or breaking anyone’s career. It starts with the sponsorship, promotions and branding, marketing and other things. I think media should continue their way of promoting sports in the country and also cultivate and promote grass-root development as well. I believe that Indians have potentials to excel in sports and the media should work on the aspects to highlight such potentials.
How do you deal with negative situations and criticism on failures?
When I started playing tennis; it was an expensive sport. At that point of time; there were not many opportunities for tennis. So when we decided to break the stereotype and go for tennis, then there were people who started saying to my father that this was not something with which I would be able to go for long terms. But my father actually believed in me and told me, “If you have a strong passion for something and you really want to do well; then nothing can stop you.” So that always worked as motivation for me to do big things. I know that even if you play well; you are still going to have criticism. I always take the positive elements from the criticism and try to restrict any of the negatives to affect my emotions and feelings. Criticism never stops. It keeps coming. As the great Sachin said, "When people throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones."
Does India still lack in sports? What do you think?
I know most of the people probably talk about lack of infrastructure, lack of certified coaches and lack of facilities in the country. But I think what needs to happen is that we should have a system wherein we should start promoting sports at a grass-root level. We have to identify talents from the country and groom them by providing the right system around them. In the early days of a child, you can actually do lots of things right and to build his/her passion. The parents play an important role there, so educating them is also important. If children get a proper support system; and on the other side, if the government help to promote them, then I believe that anything can happen. This country has an abundance of talent and if someone wants to make it big, they really can, and nothing can stop them. Recently, the Commonwealth and Asian Games are the classic examples of what can happen. Even if someone comes from a village or from a place where there is no infrastructure in place, anything can be made possible. But I think the passion, pursuit for greatness and excellences have to be there.
What does your sport has taught you as a real-life lesson?
The most important thing which tennis has taught me as a real-life lesson is never stop trying until you succeed. This has positively reflected in my personal and professional life as well.
Where do you look yourself in the next five years as a tennis player?
I’ve actually made my plans for the next five years. I will continue to play the national tournaments. I would like to play in the World Corporate games if I can get adequate support and sponsorship. I would also be looking to play some of the international tournaments in the senior ITF circuit to make a mark and bring accolades for our country. A few years back, I have done my International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) coaching certificate as I really want to give my share of contribution to this country to develop top-notch international players. On that front, I look for opportunities to mentor and help some of the top-ranked junior players. One thing that I really want to do if given an opportunity is to be associated with the Government of the country in some capacity or the other to help build India as a sports-centric nation.
Why have you not chosen tennis as a profession?
Until the age of 18, I was literally winning every tournament in the state. During that point of time, I played the national juniors where I finished as the quarter-finalist. So just like any other regular player, I also had two choices in front of me, whether to pursue tennis as a profession or to go for long studies. Fortunately, I get admitted at a good engineering college and decided to go for studies because, at that time, it was a little bit difficult to get a lot of support by means of sponsorship to play professionally. Even today; it’s hard to find long-term sponsors and support which is a matter to be looked. But when I look back now, I feel that what has happened is for the best as I continued chasing my dreams by playing this beautiful game.
What are your views about the initiative taken by Sportsmatik.com?
It’s brilliant. There are no words to say about it. I’ve clearly understood the vision and core of the organisation. What you guys are doing as a team is amazing. And, I believe that the initiative taken by Sportsmatik.com will definitely be able to transform India from a sports-loving nation to a sports-playing nation.
Visakh VS is now a part of Sportsmatik.com, Checkout his profile following the link given below-