Paying and playing pays off for Thulasi

Special Correspondent
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Thulasi.— File Photo
Thulasi.— File Photo

For a State that is popular as a ‘doubles country’ in Indian badminton, P.C. Thulasi comes like a breath of fresh air. The 21-year-old is one player who has stayed steady in singles despite attempts to move her to doubles at national camps a few years ago.

“Almost everyone here wants to play doubles but I think they have the talent to play good singles,” said Thulasi who has now shifted her home from Thrissur to Kochi to give her promising career a bigger push even during holidays. “If they work hard and focus only on singles, they will do very well.”

Thulasi is keen on trying out everything to make her badminton climb the world ladder faster. Despite grabbing the singles silver at the 2009 senior Nationals, she did not get much exposure in the international circuit.

“They were sending only two players, Saina and Aditi…the others didn’t get a chance,” said the youngster, fresh from her triumph at the Pune National-ranking event early this week. “So, from last year I started playing international tournaments, paying from my own pocket when I did not make it to the national team. I played some five tournaments, in Singapore, Indonesia and Macau. That helped my rankings a lot and made me mentally stronger.”

Saina Nehwal’s bronze at the London Olympics seems to have inspired many in the country to try out new things. “And now, we have girls like Arundhati Pantawane, Tanvi Lad and Sayali Gokhale who are playing in the international circuit, paying for their own expenses like me,” she said.

Future goals

That strategy has helped Thulasi fight her way from No. 97 to her current career-best 65 in the world rankings. “This year, my aim is to play more tournaments and get into the top 50. If I get there, I’ll have a good chance of getting into the main draw in the Super Series events. And next year, my goal is to get into the top 25. The top-10 is my long-term aim.”

Thulasi is now frequently at the national camp where she gets to play with stars like World No. 3 Saina Nehwal and No. 12 P.V. Sindhu at the Gopi Chand Academy in Hyderabad.

Thulasi, who was picked up for $10,000 by Mumbai Masters in the recent IBL auction, is thrilled that she has Malaysian Lee Chong Wei, the men’s World No. 1, in her team.

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