Seven years ago, when a young Pranauv Ram decided to shift base to Hyderabad to train at the Gopichand Academy from his native town of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, his family had to make a decision. With his father Nagalingam running his brick construction business in Madurai, Ram’s mother Prabhavati decided to shift along with the youngster to Hyderabad.
On Sunday evening, as the 16-year-old shocked top seed Dhruv Negi of Uttarakhand with a 21-16, 21-14 win to book his spot in the boys’ singles final in the Yonex Sunrise 30th Smt Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Ranking Prize Money tournament being organised by Express Shuttle Club Trust at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, the youngster was on a call for more than 30 minutes with his mother.
“While my father manages the brick business, my mother stays with me at Hyderabad and ensures that I get home food apart from making sure that I would be on time for my training since I joined the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad. My father has never asked me about joining the business later and badminton has been my only focus since I started playing it for fun,” shares the youngster while speaking with The Indian Express.
While the youngster started playing badminton in the neighbourhood park in Madurai and later at a local academy, 2017 saw him and his mother shift to Hyderabad. Ram made it to the semi-finals twice in the U13 All India Junior Ranking Tournament in 2018 before winning his first U13 Junior Ranking title in Hyderabad the next year.
Last year, the youngster reached the third round in three U-17 and U-19 All India Junior ranking tournaments apart from a semi-final finish in the Pembangunan Jaya Raya Junior International Challenge in Indonesia. “I have always believed in seeing older opponents same as myself. When I used to compete at the U13 level, I would watch the U15 and U17 matches as well, post my matches. The main focus since the last two years competing at the U17 and U19 level has been on my attacking game as well the finishing apart from controlling the pace of the shuttle,” says Ram.
This year, the youngster reached the final of the U17 Junior Nationals at Hyderabad apart from a final and semi-final appearances in the U-17 All India Junior Ranking Tournaments. Ram also won the title in the Bahrain Junior International Series, where he defeated compatriot Balasubramanian Bharadwaj in the final.
“The coaches at the academy understand that I have to play more and more U-19 tournaments as well whatever opportunities I get to play on the international circuit like the Bahrain International. I do watch videos of players like three-time Olympic medallist Lee Chong Wei when I am free and the way he approaches the game tactically has been the learning template for a lot of us,” signs off Ram.