For a sport which doesn’t even have a regular league in the city, now you have a doctorate! Well, for Aleti Balaraju, it was sheer passion that drove him to a doctorate in beach volleyball in which one can easily count the number of active players.

Yet, this native of Aler in Nalgonda district decided to tread a path that no one had dared to (being himself a former spiker and also a qualified referee).

No wonder, after the four-year course, the 46-year-old now has a Ph.D in beach volleyball from Osmania University – a first from the city in the field.

“I love the sport and on the advice of my guide Prof V. Satyanarayana I decided to do research on ‘skill test norms, a study in beach volleyball’,” he says even as he trains young talent at the Mushirabad playground.

What essentially does his research convey?

“This actually is a study of skills among three categories of players – beginners, middle-level players and seniors – with focus on how they excel in serve, first pass, second pass and attack,” explains Balaraju, who works at the Government High School (Hill Street), Secunderabad.

A sample study of 40 players in each of the above categories was made.

“The points, during the study, were awarded for each of the 10 trials the players were made to undergo in service: first-pass, second-pass and attack,” he says.

What does the sport gain from his study?

“It should help players to make a critical assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, selectors can look for specialists in each of the key departments of beach volleyball,” explains Balaraju.

“Well, from the study it was obvious that seniors by virtue of their experience were better off in the key areas of the game. So, the study by this revelation itself should be of great help to coaches and selectors to make players go through similar test of skills and pick the best,” he reasons out.

Balaraju stands as a perfect example of how sheer passion can take one to the hitherto unexplored areas even in a sport like beach volleyball in a city which doesn’t even have a flowing stream, leave alone a beach!

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