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Inspired by Tai Tzu Ying, rising shuttler Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli aims to crack the top 40 by year-end

The India No. 5 women's singles player spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda about her goals, her idol, her game, playing at the Uber Cup & more.

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive 15 May 2018, 21:19 IST
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sri krishna priya kudaravalli
Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli

The upcoming Thomas and Uber Cup 2018 to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from May 20-27, will give a priceless opportunity to India’s next generation of shuttlers to hone their skills and gain some valuable experience by playing the world’s best. One such youngster is 20-year-old Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, who will be a part of the women’s singles squad to be led by the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina Nehwal.

The Hyderabad girl, currently ranked 65th, looks forward to making the most of this grand chance. The Pullela Gopichand protégé sounded delighted when Sportskeeda got in touch with her.

“I am very happy for being selected,” says Kudaravalli. “I am feeling really great because I just started my international career on the senior circuit one year ago. Playing this tournament within one year is a good thing. I just want to give my best, playing for the country," she adds.

The elated Kudaravalli compares this feeling to the one she had when she got to represent India at the Asia Junior Championships in 2015 and even won a round -- an opportunity she cherishes even to this day.

That was the first brush with a competition of such a high level for the Hyderabad girl. Three years on, getting the Uber Cup call is something that will remain as a major accomplishment of her fledgling career.

“The biggest moment of my career so far was when I got selected for the Asia Junior Championships in 2015. That was really great. Also, getting to be a part of the Uber Cup this time has been special.”

The 2017 Kharkiv International runner-up got hooked on badminton after watching her friends going for practice every day. She doesn’t come from a sports family and did not have any idol to start with.

But it was her burning desire that pushed her father to get her admitted to a badminton coaching class when she was 10.

“My friends used to play. Seeing them going to practice everyday, I started playing outside with my mom,” Kudaravalli recalls.

“Seeing my friends going to train, I thought I too should start training. I asked my dad and then I joined Mohd. Ali Sir’s coaching class at the stadium in Kukatpally. I trained for three years there and then I shifted to Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium and trained under SM Arif Sir.

“I was there for 1.5-2 years and subsequently I arrived at the Gopichand Academy. I have been here for 5-6 years,” she explains, talking about her journey in badminton so far.

Even though she did not look up to anyone when she touched the racquet for the first time, now she does have a hero. It is none other than the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying. The Chinese Taipei ace’s finesse and adroitness has caught the youngster’s fancy.

“I used to be a fan of Lin Dan but these days I like Tai Tzu Ying more. She is really clever and the way she moves is amazing. Her attitude is really good,” she gushes.

With a player as nimble as the great Tai as her idol, she has naturally been motivated to work on her on-court movement. She described herself as a predominantly defensive player, but added she is determined to improve her attack.

“I am a defensive player. I like to rally. I don’t attack so much. Drops and half-smashes are my strength. I am currently trying to improve my netplay and attack. I am also working hard on my movement on the court.”

Her ranking has steadily been rising ever since she devoted herself full-time to the senior circuit. In January this year, she cracked the top 60 for the first time, peaking at 58th. She is of course not satisfied. Hungry as ever, the B.Com student makes it clear -- she wants to be inside the top 40 by the end of the 2018 season.

And that’s not the only high target that she has set.

“To win an Olympic gold,” comes her reply clear and distinct, when asked what her biggest goal as a shuttler is.

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