Poised to enter the top 10 in the National rankings, paddler A. V. Niveditha is also a qualified cost accountant. She opens up about her career aspirations in this freewheeling interview

She’s successful, yet uncertain; she experiences a sense of relief, yet is contemplative . For A.V. Niveditha, who will soon enter the top 10 in the National table tennis rankings list in the women’s category, the doors of employment have still not opened. However, completing her cost accountancy in August this year has given her an option to fall back on.

Far from over, her dilemma has only become more pronounced. “I am keen to continue table tennis for that’s what I have been doing for a long time. But no good job offers (sports) have come my way. I am getting some decent openings as a cost accountant, but I am not very eager to take them up. Getting a sports job will be a priority. But you never know,” says the 24-year-old, who is on a sports contract with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Ranked No.12 in India now, Niveditha has reached this position, balancing a tough cost accountancy course and a rigorous table tennis regimen. “It wasn’t easy,” she concedes, managing both.

The one-and-a-half years — the entire 2011 and first half of 2012 — were stressful for Niveditha, as she was not getting the results she desired. “It was frustrating, but I never lost hope,” says Niveditha.

At the start of 2011, she was nowhere in the picture, an injury towards the end of 2010 making things difficult for her. Slowly and steadily, she climbed the rungs, depending on father-cum-coach Vidyasagar for guidance. During her upward journey, she realised the difference between winning and playing well. “Understanding,” says Niveditha, “how to win was an experience.”

Niveditha had reasons to be thrilled when she made it to her first final in two years in the National ranking tournament in New Delhi this November. She upset fancied players en route to the summit clash: Soumi Mondal in the quarterfinals, National champion K. Shamini in the last four clashes, before losing to Madhurika Patkar. “I played without any expectation. I was enjoying my game,” says Niveditha, on her good run in New Delhi.

The change in rubbers — Tibhar Genius, both on the forehand and backhand sides after the National ranking tournament in Bangalore; she bagged a contract with AAI roughly at that time — did help her. “I felt good. It had speed and control. The rubbers played a part in my good show,” she says.

Niveditha, who was seeded five two years ago, continues to believe she will find a job based on her table tennis skills. Currently, she is preparing for the National table tennis championships to be held in Raipur in January 2013. “I’ll have to take a call on my career after the Nationals,” she signs off.