Moments after entering the second round of the Smt. Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament; Priyanshu Rajawat, 16, called up home in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, to talk to his father Bhupendra Singh. Like always, he wanted to inform him about his win, today the 21-17, 21-16 1st round triumph over Tharun M in the U-19 section.
“My father owns three photocopy shops. So every time I win, he makes sure that all the workers, his friends and even the customers know about my achievements. Sometimes, he even takes print of my results, makes copies, and displays them on the shops walls. When I was growing up, I would visit the shops often but my father never told me to involve myself with the business. I was more keen to accompany my elder brother for badminton training under coach Sudhir Verma,” shares Rajawat.
After his initial days with coach Verma — whose sons Sourabh and Sameer are among India’s elite shuttlers — Rajawat moved to the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. A couple of years back, after several state titles under his belt, the teenager took the giant leap. It was in 2016 that he made his first big impact at the national level.
In April this year, he went on to win a bronze at a Junior Grand Prix in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a month later, captured his first U-19 junior ranking tournament in Tirupur. The junior title was significant since it was a tournament he entered as a qualifier but went on the defeat three seeded players, including India number one Aman Farogh Sanjay.
“After Sourabh Verma’s national title in 2011 and Sameer Verma’s medal in world junior championships, a lot of kids in Dhar started playing badminton. We would practise on the three courts at the government stadium in Dhar. When I was inducted into Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, my brother too shifted with me. Last year’s bronze medal in Indonesia meant a lot for my family and they watched the matches on internet,” shares Rajawat.
Coach Anil Kumar says Rajawat’s two strong points are his counter-attack and his deceptive strokes. “He has shown a lot of improvement since the time he started competing at the U-15 and U-17 level. He understands the use of deceptive shots very well. He has the stamina to play more than 10-12 matches in a tournament, which he has shown by winning in qualifying round as well as six rounds in the main draw at the U-19 level,” says Kumar.
As for Rajawat, he is eager to win the title here and tease his elder sister Taneaa Rajawat, an actress whose much-acclaimed film Love and Shukla is streaming on Netflix after winning a number of international awards.
“My elder sister is in Mumbai and often sends me videos of her acting and movies. I also send her videos of my wins and she often teases me that I have to win more international medals to get more videos on the internet. I hope I can prove her right soon,” shared the youngster.