Behind the Racquet: In an Exclusive Conversation with the smashing shuttler Rohan Kapoor

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Hailing from Delhi, Rohan Kapoor has made a mark and stamped his presence in the Indian Badminton. Coming from the recent success of Denmark Open, Rohan is quite confident of taking his best game forward in the subsequent tournaments.

In a freewheeling conversation with Cynergysports, Rohan opens up on his inspiring journey in the sports which is not much known to many of the badminton fans.

Read through this interview and drop in your comments to leave your feedback.

Tell us about your journey as a badminton player and how you got started? Talk us through your childhood days and initial struggle in this industry.

I started at a young age of seven when my dad used to take my brother for his badminton sessions, and I used to accompany them. My dad plays as well so I believe the sport has been in our blood. Having indulged a passion towards the sport through such encounters, I joined an academy in Delhi. I started playing for fun but eventually I realized my strong forte in the sport. I started playing for state level competitions, U-10, U-13 tournaments and winning them. But basically because of my dad and my elder brother I started playing. I believe my dad has been my biggest motivation, observing my dad still play with such dedication and passion is what keeps me going. 

What prompted your decision to move from Delhi to Hyderabad? Were there any specific opportunities or experiences in Hyderabad that attracted you to the city? How did you prepare yourself emotionally and practically for the move to a new city?

I have spent a considerable amount of time in Hyderabad during my summer holidays growing up as my mom’s parents are based there. One summer in 2010, my dad asked me to take my kit with me and suggested that I explore some top academies there and see if I can play there for 2 months and see how it goes. I joined Pullela Gopichand academy and started playing. A week later he called my parents to enquire if I would be interested in getting trained under him and take this as my profession. Coming from Gopi Sir was a huge thing in itself, and I was truly honored to have received such an opportunity. There has been no looking back since then. My parents have truly provided me with immense support throughout my journey and they have made such transitions easy in life for me.

Two generations, one passion for badminton!

Tell us a bit about your family and your relationship with your father? Also, you earlier mentioned that your brother was passionate about Badminton as well. Could you tell us more about his journey and if he played any national-level tournaments? 

I share a very affectionate and loving relationship with my family growing up. We are a close-knit family and they have always supported me throughout my life and motivated me to take such a big decision of choosing Badminton as a career. When I visit my family in Delhi, my dad and I strengthen our bond by engaging in Badminton, a sport we both passionately enjoy and share an interest in. He always had a keen inclination towards Badminton, but he couldn’t pursue it as a career, yet he kept it going by playing every day. My brother on the other hand played till U-19 but post that he gave up as he had an interest towards the sport but not as great to pursue it professionally.

Who are some of the players in the field who have acted as a role model for you in the sport?

Before I started playing, I was unaware of the top players in the sport on the international circuit as well. Though post 2010, Saina didi (Saina Nehwal), Kashyap Bhaiya (Parupalli Kashyap) and Chetan Bhaiya (Chetan Anand) were my seniors who won big medals and I only knew them during those types. They were my ideals at that time. Saina did win the medal at the Olympics during that time, and it was a big boom in the industry which took the sport to great heights. I never had a doubles idol to be honest; it was always the singles players I admired and looked up to. Though that is something I would like to change as post this era, Chirag, Satwik and other players are doing well and the younger generation has people to look upto. Even in mixed doubles and women doubles as well. Like Jwala didi, Ashwini, Sikki, Jerry, Rupesh Bhaiya, Diju Bhaiya, all the seniors. So I believe every event has to have someone on top and it will be there.

Throwback to the early days of badminton dreams of Rohan Kapoor

How is your equation with your seniors? Do you gel well with them?

I am quite close to all my seniors, and they treat me like their younger brother. They have been of immense help and support throughout. Now Guru Bhaiya (Gurusai Dutt) has also got into coaching and even though he has been a singles player, he guides me during tournaments and points out my drawbacks and how I can perform better.

How do you balance your training schedule and personal life? What is your typical training routine like?

So now that we are in the senior category, we all have a program. Monday, we have on-field training with Gopi Sir and evening will be Gym, Tuesday again on court and evening will involve some other activities like running, sprints or some other, Wednesday’s morning same and evenings are usually off. Thursdays and Fridays are kind of the same and Saturdays are usually light and Sundays we have an off. If the week has not been great, then we also have classes on Sundays sometime. I try to stay fit and balance my sleep with this as it plays a major role after the age of 25. I feel we need to maintain our health after a certain age in general as well.

Smashing Through the Courts with Rohan Kapoor’s Power Plays!

How has working with a nutritionist like Mihira Khopkar impacted your understanding of proper nutrition and its role in optimizing athletic performance? Are there any specific changes or adjustments you have made to your diet based on Mihira’s recommendations? What is your go-to meal?

My working with Mihira was quite phenomenal as it helped me a lot. Especially when we are constantly traveling every now and then, so we need to maintain our diet at the same time in order to perform well at such highly acclaimed tournaments. Mihira used to provide me with brief plans when she worked with the academy. I really liked her plans as she used to put a lot of thought into it. She recommended me to eat basic things and provided me with a substitute for every meal. My go-to meal would be butter chicken or rajma chawal as any typical Delhiite will have.

How has your partnership with Sikki (Reddy) contributed to your success, and how do you both support and motivate each other on and off the court? Do you have any strategies on court? 

So, we started playing in September at Indian Maharashtra International Challenge 2022 where we lost. The second tournament was the Chhattisgarh International Challenge 2022, which we won. Vietnam Open 2022 we lost in finals but won other competitions. We played 5 to 6 tournaments in a row and performed extremely well. Initially I was very disheartened when we lost the tournament and didn’t know what to expect from this partnership and judge it too soon or give it more time. But next week we won the title, so I guess that patience was required. Performing in partnership can be quite tricky as it requires you to have patience and reign the mind of each other. All the doubles and mixed doubles players who are successful form strategies and cover up each other’s strengths and drawbacks to our benefit, on the court. So, we have certain strategies for service, service return and mid-rally that we try to cover as she is a left-handed player, and I am right-handed. The places she is strong at, she tries to use them and rest I try to take care of them. We share a good rapport and understanding overall. The more we play together the more we will learn I feel. 

Which are some of the upcoming tournaments you look forward to playing?

Yes, we are playing the Korea Open which starts on the 18th of July 2023 followed by the Japan Open which we are hoping to get in and then another one is the Australian Open.  

How do you analyze your opponents and adjust your game accordingly? What are some important lessons or values you have learned through playing badminton?

Me and Siki whenever we are playing, a day before the match we discuss our strategies and encourage each other to watch some matches that we feel may help us understand our opponent and also fill each other in any gap the other one might be having. These constructive discussions help us to be prepared for the match. We know our opponents have been in the industry for a long time, so being on the same page helps us a lot in forming our strategies accordingly.

Shared Dreams, Shared Victories: The Kapoor Trio!

Do have any favorite Bollywood actor/actresses or any recent web series or movies that you are binge watching presently? Also has there ever been a screening at the academy for any movies or shows.

So, I am a big Shahrukh Khan fan and I have seen all his movies growing up. The most recent one I watched was Pathaan. Presently I am binge watching Night Manager at hotstar. There is a TV in the cafeteria in the academy and everyone watches it together. I remember there was a screening of Sindhu’s Olympic finals in the academy which all of us watched together.

In the upcoming talents in Badminton, and we have so many bright ones, who do you think can make a difference for the country in years to come? Appreciate if you can highlight some names for our audience and we will make an attempt to bring their sporting stories out to the readers.

I feel Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are doing pretty well. Even Tanisha Crasto and Ishan Bhatnagar make a great team, though Ishan got injured unfortunately. I believe he will make a solid comeback and make a mark for himself. Isha Prasad is performing really well, then Dhruv and Arjun are a great pair & Gaytari Gopichand and Treesa Jolly in women’s doubles who I believe are next among the big names.

Cynergysports wishes Rohan Kapoor, a safe health & a great 2023. We thank him for his time & the support to the community.

Follow us on Instagram for more updates.

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