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Want to break into top-50 by 2016-end: Harsheel Dani

Suhrid Barua
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive
814   //    14 Aug 2016, 11:11 IST
Harsheel Dani
Harsheel Dani in action during an earlier tournament

Harsheel Dani is the latest exciting prospect on the Indian badminton circuit. The 20-year-old southpaw is seen as promising kid on the block. The Mumbai lad, who trains at Uday Pawar Academy, has strung together a series of consistent performances to break into the top-100. The 86th ranked Harsheel, who is on a scholarship with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, is gearing up to play at the upcoming Indonesian Masters in September. He spoke about his game in an exclusive interview.

Here are some excerpts:

Q: You have climbed significantly in the IBF world rankings – what would you attribute to that?

It is all because of the unstinted efforts of my parents, family members and my coaches, who have done a lot for me all these years. I have got the right guidance in my pursuit of becoming a shuttler.

Q: You are a southpaw - do you feel being left-hander has competitive advantages?

Yes, I feel that being left-hander is a great advantage because most of the left-handers have a stylish and deceptive style of game, which confuse opponents and keep them alert all the time. I’m really lucky and proud to be a left-hander.

Q: You trained at the Uday Pawar Academy in Mumbai – tell us how it started?

I joined Uday sir’s academy at Andheri Sports Club in 2002 when I was only 6. I’m currently training under him at Goregaon Sports Club. Under his guidance, I have won many Junior All-India Tournaments. I was junior national champion twice in under-19 category, and junior national champion in under-17 category. I’ve reached the final of the Senior All-India Tournament at Bareilly.

Q: You had finished runners-up at the 2015 Turkey International Open – how was it reaching your maiden singles final on the international circuit?

I was really happy to reach my first international singles final. It has helped me gain confidence and also improve my world ranking.

Q How would you assess the first half of 2016 performance-wise?

The first half of 2016 has been really amazing for me. I had reached the semifinal of the Austria Open, quarter final of the Syed Modi Grand Prix Tournament and pre-quarterfinal of the Thai Open – all these performances have boosted my self-confidence and it is because of those performances I have managed to break into the top-100.

Q What goals you have for 2016?

My goal is to perform in each and every tournament. I want to break into the top-50 by 2016-end.

Q Who is your role model and why?

Lin Dan and Usain Bolt. Lin Dan because I love the way he plays, his accuracy and temperament. Usain Bolt because he is too cool in his life and enjoys it completely. I like the way he trains.

Q How do you unwind when not playing badminton?

I like to hang out with my friends and cook food for myself.

Q Tell us a bit your early days - where you started badminton, your school and college and employed where?

I started playing badminton with my father at the Air India Club in Santacruz. As mentioned earlier, Uday Pawar is my first coach. I have done my schooling from Chhatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, Vile Parle-west. I haven’t attended my school much because I was busy training and practicing for my tournaments. I have done my junior college from Karamveer Bhaurao Patil College, Vashi. I haven’t attended a single day in my college except for the examinations. I’m currently studying in Thakur College of Science and Commerce, Kandivali, doing my final year B.Com. I’m on a scholarship with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.

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Suhrid Barua
FEATURED COLUMNIST
I am a passionate sports journalist/blogger who is madly in love with cricket,football, hockey, boxing, wrestling, badminton, like to follow all sports
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