Reeth Rishya offers a glimmer of hope for Tamil Nadu at a time when its talent cupboard looks uninspiring. That the 16-year-old is one of the best paddlers in Tamil Nadu augurs well for the State. Her victory in the National junior championship at Siliguri recently — she is the first TN paddler to retain the title — proves beyond doubt that she is talent worth investing for the future.
Beating Spoorthy in the summit clash wasn't an easy task. Only 13 years, the Vijayawada girl has immense talent. Reeth had to use all her experience to pip Spoorthy in a keenly-fought seven games. “She is a difficult opponent. She has a lot of variety in her services. It took time for me to adjust to that but once I understood her spin, I took charge,” said Reeth. “It feels great to retain the title.” Reeth has improved a lot and it's obvious that she's worked on her game under the tutelage of chief coach V.M. Ravi Venkatesh at Maharishi Vidya Mandir Club. Early last year, she was consistent but was reluctant to attack. Now, the diffidence is gone. She is confident on counters and is aggressive from the start. Her other coaches V. Vasu, Ramesh Babu and Bharath have ensured that Reeth maintain her intensity during training.
The XII Std student of Kaligi Ranganathan Montford MHSS (Perambur, Chennai) still looks up to her father Tennison Susairaj. “He's been my role model. He is my first coach. Every morning, I train with him. It's because of him that I've achieved this much,” said Reeth, who was ranked No.1 in women, juniors and No.2 in youth in the State in 2010; last year she couldn't take part in any State-ranking tournaments due to National camps and tournaments abroad.
Reeth understands that she is through with the juniors and the next level will be full of thorns and pitfalls. “I know it'll be difficult. I can give a tough fight to the top players in the women's. My target is to reach the women's semi-finals of the National championships and of course play consistently.” Reeth said she has to work more on her movements and have an all-powerful game. “I need to do some work in the gym to gain power,” she said.
Reeth, sponsored by Indian Oil, is not short of international experience. In 2011, she took part in the US Open, been to Pro-tours in Spain, France, and represented India in the World junior championships in Bahrain, which she says provided a wonderful exposure to the best of players. The training she had in Koping (Sweden) prior to the worlds was an experience in itself, according to her.
Ravi Venkatesh said the biggest strength of Reeth is her ability to “apply herself intelligently to what ther coaches want her to do.” The former State player said she is good in top-spin and on counters, is hard-working, sincere and systematic in training. Ravi insists she needs to however acquire the mental strength to withstand pressure from opponents when the going gets tough. “To excel in women's is not easy. It is a big challenge. But I am sure Reeth will come out with flying colours,” said Ravi. There isn't a whiff of doubt that Reeth is a focused and committed paddler. Her reaching the top position in India is only a matter of time.