Nikhil Kanetkar at his Badminton academy at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Balewadi.(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
Nikhil Kanetkar at his Badminton academy at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Balewadi.(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)

Former Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar poised to mould champion shuttlers from Pune

Former Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar, who has been grooming young badminton players for the next generation since 2011, talks about his academy called the Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy and what makes it stand out from the other academies in the city
By Pranav Shahaney | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON APR 01, 2019 04:35 PM IST

Pune Since 2011, former Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar has been grooming young badminton players for the next generation at his academy called the Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy (NKBA) at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex.

His passion and unmatched dedication to create an Olympic champion is what has kept the fire burning in his belly.

Thus far, a number of his players are doing well not only at the national level but also while representing the country in junior international events.

His coaching methods have been second to none from the very first day and it’s due to the transparency in operations and his open-door policy (feel free to ask doubt ay any time) as to why parents of the players are also keen to enrol their children at NKBA.

Kanetkar explained what exactly his academy did that made it stand out from the other academies in the city.

According to him conversing constantly with the parents as well as the players is important as they progress from one level to another and changing the intensity of the training is also just as imperative for him.

“We’ve been here since 2011 and it has been a fulfilling experience. Every year a number of our players do well at different tournaments in the country and international ones as well. We have different batches all day where we train players of different levels from beginners to advanced. What we also do is that we keep having meetings with the parents and the players so that we’re all on the same page moving forward. We also have 20 well-reputed coaches working with them all day to gauge how they’re shaping up and what changes need to made in their routines,” said Kanetkar.

While NKBA may be the go-to academy for all things badminton in the city, it is, in many ways a stepping stone to the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.

Often, kids from NKBA get trained to a certain level when they do well at the junior level, but in order to reach the level of a Saina Nehwal or a PV Sindhu, decide to go Telangana to take their game to the next level.

When quizzed about what needs to be done to take his academy to the next level and where NKBA is falling short in comparison to Gopichand’s academy, Kanetkar stated, “What Gopi has done for the country has been immense but he has also been backed by the centre. The infrastructure and training there is of a different level. While we also have the support of the state government, we’re doing all we can do to produce fine junior players.”

The 39-year-old then drew comparisons between the badminton culture of Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Pune, saying that it will take a long time for the city to match their levels of enthusiasm.

“In cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru, we have kids training early in the morning, going to school and getting back to training after they’re done with their school. For Pune to become a Hyderabad or a Bangalore it will take a while because that culture isn’t there here.”

However, Kanetkar has vowed to continue working in order to make Pune a prominent city on the badminton map of the city as it is the birthplace of the game and the talent that he has at his disposal is at an extremely high level.

Players from Nikhil Kanetkar badminton academy during their practice session at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, Balewadi on Friday. (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
Players from Nikhil Kanetkar badminton academy during their practice session at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, Balewadi on Friday. (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)

PUNE BADMINTON CALENDAR

April -Smasher’s Badminton tournament for corporates,

Category: All age group

Venue: Not yet decided

May – Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association Team League Championship,

Category: Inter-club

Venue: Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association Complex, Shivajinagar

June – Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association District Championship,

Category: 11-19 years, seniors and veterans

Venue: Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association Complex, Shivajinagar

August - Sushant Chipalkatti Memorial Junior International Grand Prix

Category: Under-19

Venue: Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association Complex, Shivajinagar

December - VV Natu Memorial National Level Senior’s tournament

Category: All age group

Venue: Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association Complex, Shivajinagar

Players to watch out for

Tanishka Desphande, 17: Enjoying an illustrious youth career, Deshpande has already been crowned singles and doubles champion at the under-15 state level. She was ranked number 2 at the state level in the under-17 category and was also part of the Indian contingent at the under-18 World School games.

Varun Kapur, 16: The NKBA graduate has won the Slovak Junior and Dubai Junior International Series last year and finished a runner up in the Mongolia Junior International Series. In the under-15 age group, he’s already won singles titles in Cyprus, Israel and Croatia.

Purva Barve, 18: The teenage sensation won the Italian and Israel junior events in 2017 after which she got selected for the Indian team for the junior games. The following year, she won a trio of events in Cyprus, Croatia and Israel, which catapulted her into the top 10 in the world.

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