With excellent performances at the junior level, Mallika Shetty is looking for a berth in the National squad

Waiting in the wings is indeed frustrating. And if it’s a 21-year-old southpaw who packs a punch in her steep smashes, the wait gets more agonising.

For her the wait has been not only to don the India colours, but also to get into the job market (although quite a few organisations did show interest in getting her for her State performances alone). Mallika Shetty is a State volleyball player from the Sports Hostel, Mysore, who has been in the National camp for three years now but is yet to get a look-in. The South Western Railway and Central Railway were interested in recruiting this talented spiker.

“But there has been no further news from them," said Mallika, who led her team to another state A division league title recently.

Being a left-hander and very athletic has its advantages but it also comes with lots of responsibilities. She is the pillar of her team and shoulders the burden of smashing her way past the rival defence with impunity. Mallika has a wiry frame and has capitalized on her athleticism to good effect right from her school days.

“In school in a small hamlet in rural Karnataka, I excelled in athletics (shot put and discus throw). In 2007, I came to Bangalore and joined the Sports School Vidyanagar, and began my tryst with volleyball," admits Mallika.

She is currently pursuing her second year B. Com at the Teresian College in Mysore and honing her skills at the Mysore Sports Hostel under coach Ashok, whom she has been with for over three years now.

“My role in the team is not just as an attacker,” Mallika says.

“As the main weapon and the fulcrum of the team, at times I need to lift the morale of the team members as well. When they get into a bad match or a slump in form, I talk to them and pep them up, which has acted as a tonic a few times,” she adds.

She has been in the Indian camp (juniors and seniors) but has not got the final nod.

“I have given my best at all times...but have not earned India colours yet. I guess that day is not far, when I will,” says the girl who has been instrumental in Karnataka's success story in the junior and women's nationals in the recent past.