She comes across as a normal teenager. With short-cropped hair and an ever-present smile, this lanky 16-year-old is still shy of making her presence felt off the badminton court. But when on it, she tells a different story. The smile gives way to determination. Cool, calm and composed, she barely shows emotions as she demolishes her opponents with calculated strokes. That's G. Ruthvika Shivani for you.
In main draw
On Tuesday she made the main draw of the India Open Super Series, her third senior tournament. In the previous two - Tata Open and Syed Modi International - Ruthvika had sailed through the qualifiers. After scalping big names in the first round, she bowed out in the pre-quarters. She runs into fourth seed Minatsu Mitani of Japan in the first round at Siri Fort.
"No expectations. I just want to enjoy on court tomorrow (Wednesday)," she giggles.
Taking up the sport at the age of seven, she honed her skills at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh in Khammam under the guidance of Sudhakar Reddy. After pocketing the 2011 Asian U-15 silver medal in Japan, she shifted to the Gopichand Academy in June last.
"My parents are yet to shift to Hyderabad. They will soon though," she says. "Gopi sir has helped me with my fitness, sharpening my all-round game." And results followed with her triumphing at the national U-17 and U-19 tournaments.
Ruthvika and Rituparna Das (17) are the two juniors who made the main draw. While the 16-year-old beat Varsha V Belawadi and Mudra Dhainje; Rituparna thrashed GM Nischitha and Mohita Sahdev. "I play second seed Juliane Schenk and I'm looking forward to it!" said Rituparna, who relocated to Hyderabad in 2009. She was spotted the year before after winning the national U-13 title.
Gopichand recently called these two youngsters promising. Time will tell if they make it.
Former India No. 1 Chetan Anand made the main draw of the men's singles after a hard fought win over Sameer Verma. Anand won 22-20, 11-21, 21-13. Having recovered from injuries, he feels his confidence has grown.
"The aim this year is to make the top 50 in the world. After repeatedly injuring myself, I've worked on base fitness to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.
In the first round Chetan will take on Sameer's brother Sourabh, who had made the quarterfinals here in 2011. "Looking forward to it," he said with a laugh.
The other male players to qualify were Arvind Bhat, Subhankar Dey, and H S Prannoy. Anup Sridhar failed to get past the second round.
In the women's section Trupti Murgunde and Saili Rane also won their respective matches.