Rutuja Bhosale is currently placed as India's fourth best female tennis player. The Shrirampur-born tennis ace began playing tennis at the age of nine. She ended her juniors' career at a ranking of No.55. Now ushering into the higher echelons of the game, Rutuja shares with us her own tennis story, her future goals and some vital questions surrounding Indian tennis. She has done Business Studies with Minors in Human Resources and Tourism Management and is currently placed within the Top 400 in the singles and the Top 200 in doubles, globally.
Q: So Rutuja let's start from the scratch. Why tennis?
A: My dad was a track and field person. He used to play javelin throw and kabbadi. Track and field was not so big in India that time and he wanted me to try some sport. His friend's son was playing tennis. So he advised me try tennis just as a hobby. Then I think within the next two years I developed a liking for the sport and when I played my first tournament, the competing part was so interesting for me because I was so young. So that's why I chose tennis.
Q: Which was that one moment when you decided that I want to pursue tennis as a sport and I want to become a professional athlete in this sport itself?
A: I think it was around when I was 13-14 years old when I won the Chennai Nationals. I was pretty much decent in school and my mom was like 'What do you want to do?' (chuckles). My mom was towards the schooling side and my dad was like 'let her choose.' So you know in any case I wanted to get away from studies. So I said, "I think I want to choose tennis."
Q: Any hurdles you faced when you decided to go completely pro in tennis?
A: Obviously, financially the travelling and all is very expensive. Travelling alone is fine but I travel with my mother and its really helpful to have someone with you. But then the travelling expenses are also there in such cases. Another thing is that I have been very injury-prone since I was a junior. So yes these are the two main hurdles that I faced.
Q: How is the Indian Govt and state govt in funding Tennis players?
A: We get support but would be great if it is continuous and not only performance based. We are in the “Vision” programme by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA). The Maharashtra Association has good tennis centers and facilities for training. I also got a lot of support from Lakshya Sports before I went to USA.
Q: You have won 2 ITF singles titles and 10 ITF doubles titles. So from here, do you project yourself as a singles player or a doubles player?
A: My goal is obviously singles. But recently, since the end of last year I have played much better in doubles. It is just that I am not getting the results that I want (in singles) because very recently I have started training in Spain and there a lot of things I am working on. Its just that all the things are not coming in naturally right now. A lot of changes are still happening in my game. Like I am figuring out my serve, my position on the court. Singles takes a lot of work. So whatever efforts I am putting in is evident in doubles but not in singles yet. So my purpose is singles, but you never know like how it will turn out.
Q: Where are you training currently?
A: I currently train in ProTennis Coaching in Barcelona.
Q: So how frequently do you go there to train?
A: I was in there from December last year. My training began in January and I had some work done on my shoulders and stuff. My three months went there. The visa was an issue but now I have finally got one for five years. So this has bought me time to train in Europe and work upon some aspects of my game.
Q: You being a transitioning player for someone who is now targeting the higher levels of the game, considering the Indian aspect, do you think the new ITF World Tennis Tour is good for us or bad for us?
A: The two ranking system was weird as the final aim is to get the WTA ranking. It puts the WTA ranked players in qualifying when they should be in the main draw and I feel who have played 15ks and 25ks should get that ranking. And because of the change have to be in qualifying again! But its all normal now as they have reverted back to the original system.
Q: What according to you are the pros and cons of Indian tennis?
A: When I was younger, I got to be a part of the Fed Cup when I was just 15. And I was watching Sania Mirza, she was doing well in both singles and doubles. To watch and be with players like her who are doing well on tour is great and is a definite pro in the Indian scenario. The cons are that players need more support financially and to improve skills.Q: Do you think are there any other factors that add up to India not being able to produce a singles champion on the pro circuit? A: In doubles we have seen so many of our players reach the World No.1 ranking. But in singles the work required is much more. Tiny details need to be changed which add up to a player’s singles skills to help produce a singles champion on the pro circuit.
Q: So now for the light headed questions. Who is the toughest opponent you faced?
A: I find lefties very tough for me. I mean I don't remember playing a lot with left-handed players.
Q: Favorite tournament you have been a part of?
A: I would say the WTA in Mumbai.
Q: If not a tennis player, you would be?
A: I would be an interior designer or a police commissioner.
Q: One quote during a match you bank upon:
A: I have many actually. But currently I have a screensaver on my phone that says “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and give your best”.
Q: One player whose fashion style you adore the most:
A: Venus Williams
Q: Name the players whose attributes you would like to inculcate in your game.
A: Serve: Ashleigh barty
Return: Victoria Azarenka
Forehand: Rafael Nadal
Backhand: Rafael Nadal
Volley: Roger Federer
Drop Shot: Roger Federer
Agility: Simona Halep
Q: What is your regime when it comes to taking nutritional supplements?
A: Well as an athlete, you are supposed to take a lot of supplements because you burn a lot. So before when I was working with my nutritionist she used to tell me to take this, take that. Sometimes I would get it, sometimes I won't and some of them were very expensive to get. But since I started using Fast&Up products, I am very regular in what I take and the products have been very helpful. I used to get fatigued really fast but since I am taking their products, I don't get fatigued as much. When I go to Pune I see so many athletes use Fast&Up products. So I feel they have great products which are really helpful to athletes.
Q: What is that one thing about you that people do not know?
A: I am actually very anti-social. When I talk to people I talk a lot if I know them. But if I have time, I would choose to be at home rather than go out somewhere.