• The Edict

New Faces, New Season: Meet Ashoka’s Sports Captains Part 2

Dhruvan Nair, Undergraduate Batch of 2021 and Ashwin Menon, Undergraduate Batch of 2022


In our next set of interviews with the new captains of Ashoka’s Sports teams, we introduce the captains of the Men’s Table Tennis team and the Women’s Lawn Tennis team. Facing the reality of a long and arduous time without sports, the two captains talk about their life without it and how they stay motivated and busy. They were also nice enough to let us into their rigorous schedules which shows us the level of commitment they put into their respective disciplines. The enthusiastic captains are excited for the new season which is proving to be filled with challenges and yet opportunity.

Excerpts from the interview:

Ashraya Mahesh



  1. How and when did you find your love for the sport and what prompted you to pursue it on a regular basis?

  • I started to play tennis and other sports when I was a child since I hail from a family of sport lovers and enthusiasts. With a tennis club right opposite our residence, I couldn’t help but develop a liking for the game that later developed into a passion.


  1. Tell us about your experiences with your predecessor, watching them lead from the front and what is one quality you found inspiring in them as a leader?

  • Vedika and Dhruv, the former team captains have always motivated and encouraged the team, especially during important tournaments. Their coordination and communication skills are qualities that I hope to emulate in order to carry the team forward.


  1. How do you balance the responsibilities of a captain along with an already packed schedule for both academics and sports at Ashoka and what challenges do you see a sportsperson at Ashoka facing to find this balance?

  • Right from my school days, I’ve balanced sports and academics quite well. There were always assignments to be submitted amidst traveling around the country to compete in tournaments. The pressure is more at Ashoka, but prioritizing your work plays an important role in managing your time efficiently.


  1. As a leader, what are the ways in which you think the following for Sports on campus can improve?

  • Hosting and conducting more tournaments on campus is something that could help in creating more enthusiasm surrounding tennis. Perhaps official screenings of Grand Slams could stir more interest amongst Ashokans as well


  1. Any particular player we need to look out for this season?

  • The juniors have adapted really well and have also put up some great performances throughout the season. Dipanita was a great support to the women’s team and Ronith showed immense courage and sportsmanship in his performances last year.


  1. With the impact of Covid-19 being felt in all aspects of life, how do you envision sports in a post-Covid world? What challenges do you expect to face as captain to rekindle the spirit in the camp?

  • Sports have definitely taken a massive hit. Getting back in form should take a while for all athletes. But as a captain, I think the biggest challenge would be to motivate and encourage the players to practice and compete despite the slow start that is bound to occur when you go without several months of practice.


Gopal Sonthaliya


  1. How and when did you find your love for the sport and what prompted you to pursue it on a regular basis?

  • My house was next to a small school where the table tennis culture was strong. However, outsiders were not allowed to go inside the school and play with team players. Later, I requested the administration in my school to get a coach for us. Our coaching wasn’t continuous but we could learn the basic techniques. By the time I had the basic knowledge of this sport, I was unfortunately already in grade 10. When I joined the last two years of my high-school, I was completely away from table tennis because academics was something to give more priority at that time as per my parents and teachers. My love for sports grew when I joined Ashoka. We got a coach and he really motivated me to practice off table, during weekends and invited me to join a table tennis academy and attend camps. When I started pursuing table tennis passionately, I realized I could learn and play it for my country as the national level players are not performing well in international tournaments.


  1. Tell us about your experiences with your predecessor, watching them lead from the front and what is one quality you found inspiring in them as a leader?

  • I got a chance to play with two different captains, Anuj and Aditiya. Both of them taught me a lot of things about the structure of this sport which I was unaware of, being a Nepali in the Indian table tennis circuit. They help me shape my playing style which has really helped me over a couple of years. Anuj was not just a captain, but also was more of a friend to me, he was always there to motivate me which is something I found inspiring. And Aditiya always believed if you really love and understand this sport, you’ll fall in love with it. He is probably one of the most passionate people about Table Tennis I’ve ever met.


  1. How do you balance the responsibilities of a captain along with an already packed schedule for both academics and sports at Ashoka and what challenges do you see a sportsperson at Ashoka facing to find this balance?

  • I just cut my sleeping time and follow a regular pattern. Maintaining a balance between academic and sports life is really tough particularly in college. My day starts at 5.30, with going to a nearby training center in Sonepat. From crossing the highway and the irritating noise of autos whizzing past is enough to drain my energy even as the sun just about rises. Training sessions are physically tough when there are ranked state players training alongside you and you are expected to train like them. Coming back to campus and attending lectures is another tiring thing. However, the evening training sessions on campus are a bit relaxing because the training session is a bit flexible and short. The day ends around 11.00 pm. So I think time management is harsh because there is not much incentive for sports as much as attendance.


  1. As a leader, what are the ways in which you think the following for Sports on campus can improve?

  • I think recognition lacks when it comes to sports in Ashoka. My efforts are not really known by my professors or other people on campus. We really need to create a culture of sports in our campus so that we have something people can come together and play and enjoy. We need to organize more home tournaments and fun events so that people know and join. And of course, there should be some incentives for the players who go play for the university.


  1. Any particular player we need to look out for this season?

  • We will have our eyes on Prashasti and Ayush as they have made a lot of progress in a short span of time.


  1. With the impact of Covid-19 affecting all aspects of life, how do you envision sports in a post-Covid world? What challenges do you expect to face as captain to rekindle the spirit in the camp?

  • I’m scared of whether people will be willing to be back on court and start training again because most are sitting at their homes with no regular training or fitness. Another difficulty could be the lack of supporting audiences who have been a source of energy to motivate players and fight until the victory. But my fingers are crossed and I am just hoping for the best.


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