Hello, my name is Shria Atturu. I am a professional tennis player. I have been playing tennis since I was 5. I was born in the United States to my Indian origin parents. I train under Ganesh Raman in Hyderabad. I recently got my first WTA ranking, or in other words professional ranking.
What motivated you to become a sports person?
When I was 5, my parents wanted to make sure that I had some sort of physical activity everyday. My dad asked me what sport I wanted to play, or even if I wanted to join dance. Iimmediately said that I wanted to play tennis. My cousin Babji plays tennis as well, and I had seen him play when I had visited India over the summer. That was when tennis caught my eye.My dad told me, let’s try some other sports before you decide for sure that you want to play tennis. So I tried gymnastics, swimming, basketball, ballet, and of course tennis as well. I still wanted to play tennis the most. We watched a lot of tennis at home, or at least that was the sport which we watched the most. Federer used to be my favorite player, and I remember wanting to be able to play like them, and wanting to play at their level. From the start, even though I was 5, I always wanted to do really well in tennis. I didn’t quite know, at that moment, what was required to become a professional tennis player, but I really wanted to play. My biggest motivation was that I enjoyed playing tennis very much.
What is your work regime?
We play tennis in the morning for about 3 to 3 ½ hours. The duration varies depending on what we are working on. Then we do fitness for about 1 ½ to 2 hours in the evening. The fitness sessions cover all the different aspects which are required for tennis like speed/agility, flexibility, strength/power, stability, and endurance. We also go to the physio to prevent or treat any injuries. We follow a nutrition plan which we consulted a nutritionist for to make sure that we are getting enough nourishment. Following a proper nutrition plan and a fitness plan is extremely important for athletes in order to prevent injury and further improve your performance.
Do you think the life of an athlete is tough compared to other professionals?
First of all, trying to become #1 in the world in any profession is very tough. Working to become the #1 surgeon in the world is the same as working to become the #1 tennis player in the world. You can’t compare becoming average in some profession to trying to become a world class athlete. You can compare trying to become the #1 engineer in the world to trying to become the #1 tennis player in the world. However, if you love your profession, it doesn’t feel so hard. Yes, I’m sure that when you are on the court and doing a drill, your legs might be burning from sprinting to a ball and then braking and changing direction. Going through the same drill over and over again until you can’t anymore, but even then you still push for two more balls. Sweat might be dripping down your face, as you train in the beaming sun, but when you love the sport every part feels exciting. In fact you might hear athletes say that they love the burn. Not only is tennis a physical sport, but it is mentally challenging as well. In tennis, the match isn’t over until it is actually over. You can be down 0-6, 0-5, 0-40 and still come back and win the match. The question is if you’re mentally ready to keep fighting for every ball. Along with perseverance, a tennis player should be able to strategize against each opponent on how to make them play their weaknesses into your strengths. Tennis requires both extreme athleticism and high IQ. So for someone watching from the outside, it is a tough sport, but as long as you enjoy it any amount of work will feel exhilarating.
Who do you wish was watching you perform at every game or match?
The one person that I would love to have at every match would be Ganesh sir, my coach (Ganesh Raman). He is exceptionally skilled. He knows exactly what to say and when to say it. When I am playing, he keeps everything very simple and helps me adjust to different conditions with simple tips. He knows how to work with different types of players, keeping their past, mindset, physical limitation, their game style, strengths, weaknesses, etc in mind.
How does being an athlete make you a better person and a better student or worker??
Athletes are pushed to the brink everyday. We face immense pressure and challenges on the court, which make us mentally unbreakable. Even if eventually we aren’t as successful in the sport as we worked to be, sport teaches us very important life lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else. We walk off the court with problem solving skills, perseverance, resilience, and the ability to handle immense pressure. When we go back to a normal life, problems which might seem challenging won’t feel so hard, because of the mental strength we built on the court.
How do you cope with mental pressure faced during tournaments?
I used to get excessively nervous in my matches, but then I realized that this is a long process. I will have many matches, and this one match won’t change anything. At the same time, you should put aside the result and just go and have fun. You should try your best no matter what, and whether you come out with a win or lose, you always learn something from the match. Everyone finds their own ways to calm down their nerves through experimenting and trying, but the only way you can do that is to face many situations where you get such sensations. In conclusion, even top players still get nervous, but playing lots of tournaments will reduce nervousness, because you learn how to deal with it.