As a little girl, Andrea Sarah Kurien used to accompany her elder sister Melanie for bhartanatyam classes at Kalamassery in Kochi. But more than dance, she was excited when she saw little children chasing ‘birds’ in the next hall where Antony K. Jacob was running a badminton academy during weekends.
“Andrea learned bharatanatyam for a year with her sister and then they both joined the badminton academy. And Andrea continued with the sport when Antony started a regular academy at Kakkanad,” said Priya Kurien, Andrea’s mother.
Andrea is 16 now and head coach Antony Jacob and junior coach Arun Sanjeev have moulded her into a fine player at the Bright Sports Antony’s Academy. The young girl won the under-17 State title and made her State senior debut memorable by adding the women’s title in Thrissur on Saturday.
But the last two years were painful ones for Andrea, a 11 th standard student at the Rajagiri Christu Jayanthi School.
“I was injured the last two years. First, I had an ankle injury and then a back injury, so all my tournaments went off like that. This year was a sort of restart...I really worked hard for these tournaments,” said Andrea.
And her rewards have come in plenty.
She is now in Kerala’s National Games team, a side which will include Thomas Cup and Commonwealth Games medallists like H.S. Prannoy, Treesa Jolly and M.R. Arjun. That should offer plenty of valuable lessons to the young girl who is also in the State’s South Zone squad.
Three years ago Andrea and Pavithra Naveen, Kerala’s youngest State women’s champion who was also coached by Antony earlier, played doubles at the under-15 Asians in Indonesia.
“Andre is the best among my bunch now. She has deceptive strokes, has a wide range and can mix her shots well. She can produce good strokes even under pressure,” said Antony.
“She is currently National No. 4 (under-17 singles) and has the potential to become a national champion. Of course, she will have to improve a lot as she moves to a higher level. And she needs to improve her strength.”