Karan Rastogi is one of the better known tennis players in India. He used to be the number 4 junior in the world in 2004 and reached his highest singles ranking of 327 on the ATP charts in June 2006. Despite being out of action for almost 2 years owing to a back injury ,Karan clawed his way back to number 329 on the ATP charts and recently won the Men’s team bronze medal at the Asian Games in Guanzhou.
Akshay Jyotishi- Was it hard starting off with tennis in a cricket dominated country?
Karan Rastogi- Definitely, it is lot harder compared to countries like Australia. Tennis is a really expensive game because of the constant traveling and accommodation. Very few people in India have financial backing.
Akshay Jyotishi- Was your family supportive of you when told them you wanted to play tennis professionally?
Karan Rastogi- Absolutely, I decided to take up tennis as a career in 8th or 9th grade and my parents were completely supportive of my decision.
Let’s talk about idols now, almost every sports person has somebody he could look up to, how about you?
Karan Rastogi-When I was growing up , I used to look up to Pete Sampras.I used to watch a lot of his videos and there were posters of him all over my room.
Akshay Jyotishi : Youth development is obviously an important requirement for any country to do well in a particular sport. Do you think India has taken it seriously with respect to tennis?What more would you want them to do?
Karan Rastogi-- I feel ,there’s a lot more that can be done.There’s a lot of room for improvement.We’ve come a long way in the last 10-20 years.We need corporates to get involved with the game.I’m guessing the AITA are doing whatever they can with the resources that they have.We are going in the right direction,
Akshay Jyotishi-Which coach are you currently working with? Who have been your coaches in the past.
Karan Rastogi : My current coach is Marc Sophoulis from Australia. He has been with me for the past year and a half or so.
Akshay Jyotishi-India ,with a population of a billion people is still a sleeping giant as far as tennis is concerned, whereas much smaller countries like Serbia,Croatia etc are doing far better. Where do you think we lack ?
Karan Rastogi :I think the sporting culture is different not only for tennis but for other sports as well.People in other countries take up sports as a career and not only as a hobby. In India sports aren’t really looked at as a career option.
Akshay Jyotishi-We all know , every achievement is special to any sportsperson, but is there anyone particular achievement that you cherish more than the others?
Karan Rastogi : Playing Rafael Nadal at the Chennai Open is a special memory.
Akshay Jyotishi-Not many people know that you once beat Maria Sharapova. Can you tell us more about that?
Karan Rastogi : That was ages ago, at the Nick Bolliteiri Tennis Academy right. It was an informal match, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.
Akshay Jyotishi-A sport like tennis is hard to play professionally without financial backing. Can you tell us about your sponsors?
Karan Rastogi :My kit sponsors are Nike and my equipment is sponsored by Head.
Akshay Jyotishi-Any advice for India’s budding tennis stars?
Karan Rastogi :Try and enjoy the game when you are young.It is important to enjoy the game at a young age and take the game seriously when you are older.
On the lighter side,
Akshay Jyotishi:What do you do when not playing tennis:
Karan Rastogi :I’m a huge fan of bollywood movies,I like hanging out with friends, I’ve been reading a bit lately when I travel.
Akshay Jyotishi:What are your favorite cuisines?
Karan Rastogi : Indian,Italian,Lebanese..
Akshay Jyotishi:What kind of music do you listen to?
Karan Rastogi : I like bollywood music,R&B. There’s a mix of genres on my Ipod.
Akshay Jyotishi: What is your Favorite City:
Karan Rastogi : New York.
Akshay Jyotishi:What are the gadgets you can’t live without
Karan Rastogi : Ipod, Blackberry.
Akshay Jyotishi: Thank you once again for your time, best of luck for your future endeavors.
Karan Rastogi: Thank You, It was my pleasure.