New Delhi: Don't judge a book by its cover. This adage perfectly fits 16-year-old shuttler Lakshya Sen who stepped into the senior circuit last year, and was able to carve his niche as one of the most promising young badminton players in the country. But one is made to wonder what is so different about this youngster when compared to a host of other promising and upcoming stars? When we have players like Ciril Verma and Aditya Joshi—both former junior world no 1—struggling to find their feet in the senior category, Lakshya is already making the right moves.
A world ranking of 89 doesn't really present a fair picture of the progress Lakshya has made in the last one year, but one has to look back at his stellar performances in national and international tournaments throughout last season. The youngster’s calm demeanor was in full display during last year's Sr. nationals where he reached the semifinals, only to fall to Kidambi Srikanth. To go with it, he won his first international series title too.
"I think going into these tournaments I was very confident. When I see the draw I can foresee where I can reach. I just work hard towards it then. Talking about the nationals specifically, it was a great learning curve for me. I think that tournament gave me a fair picture of where I stand currently, and what are areas that I need to work on," Lakshya told News 18 Sports.
There are certain aspects of the game you don't expect a teenage boy to be aware about, but the Almora lad is certainly an exception here too. Having stayed out of home, in Bangalore ever since he was 10, he knows what the requirements of the game are. In fact Lakshya never seems to complain about staying away from his family, and has found a perfect home, away from home in the academy.
"When I was 9, I was playing a tournament in Bangalore. This was an U-13 tournament. I played the qualifying rounds and did well. Vimal Kumar saw me playing. He spoke to my dad, and asked him to send me to a camp at the Prakash Padukone Academy. And from there on I have been staying in Bangalore, with my elder brother Chirag Sen, who's a badminton player too. Even my grandfather used to come to see me. So it wasn't very difficult for me to stay alone.
"Also when you stay alone, you have no option but to think about your game even more, and you get to learn a lot."
After a reasonably good year in the senior circuit, there was an odd rumour that Lakshya might train in Hyderabad at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, but the boy dismissed it completely. For him Bangalore is the best place to train in, and he has no future plans to switch.
"I don't think I'll go to any other place for training right now. I'm doing pretty well here. Whatever I need, I'm getting here, and I'm seeing constant improvement in my game. So I have no reason to go anywhere else," Lakshya added.
Considering that 2018 is going to be a busy year, Lakshya has already charted-out a map for the year and is certainly eyeing greater success this season. Shying away from telling what tournaments he would like to feature in, Lakshya said, "I'll be playing senior tournaments, so I want to win big. For that to happen I need to Improve on the physical aspect of my game. If I want to match the best in the world, then I need to bring that aspect in my game.
"So for now I'd be skipping the India Open. This is the right time for me to start all over again, and focus on areas like staying injury-free during a long season," he concluded.