Friday, June 20, 2014

Manoj Raghuraman – Repeat Champion Still Looking to Improve

      After a fifteen-year hiatus, Manoj made a comeback on the tennis court in early 2013 by joining Orange County Tennis League or better known as  Manoj wasted no time at all: He established his rating at around the 3.75 to 4.0 level, and he quickly won the 2013 Spring Season Division C championship. Maybe tennis is imprinted in Manoj’s muscle memory after all; he started playing at the early age of 7 thanks to his grandfather’s coaching.

      After emerging as an OC champion, Manoj was promoted to Division B. As excited as he was to be so successful so soon, Manoj was nowhere near complacent. He tried to keep his game sharp by continuing to play two or three matches per week. And guess what, he won the 2014 Spring Season Division B championship too! Watch out OC players, there’s nothing stopping this man.

      Manoj attributes his winning ways to being as patient and perceptive as possible when playing against his opponents. He constantly tries to spot their weakness and then relentlessly hold it against them. (Sounds like he’s been taking pointers from Brad Gilbert.)

      Among his rivals, there are two players in particular who stand out in his mind: Brian Millard and Dan Parsons. What the two have in common is that they’ve both given Manoj a lot of hard time, season after season. And yet, their styles couldn’t be more different: Like Novak vs. Rafa, Manoj’s matches against Brian tend to get very physical. Brian forces Manoj to answer to his big forehand, consistent backhand, and exceptional court coverage. Not only that, Brian is always tirelessly improving his game, giving Manoj no choice but to keep up. Dan, on the other hand, is all about pushing Manoj’s patience to the limit. He has an unconventional serve and doesn’t hit the ball too hard, but he keeps every ball in play. Against Dan, Manoj feels that he is mostly playing against himself—it is all about keeping steady and not giving up free points through unforced errors.

      Manoj loves tennis for many reasons: First of all, it involves a racquet. You see, he enjoys all sports that involve striking a ball with some kind of equipment, including table tennis, badminton, racquetball, and even cricket! Other than that, Manoj feels that tennis has been a great complement to his career. Things can get hectic at his job in the medical device industry, and playing tennis has been a great stress-buster. Manoj also appreciates that tennis keeps him active and physically fit. It has certainly played a role in keeping him sharp at work. 

      Manoj finds the OC league well-organized, which is conducive to finding compatible partners and scheduling regular games. The league has definitely provided an excellent outlet for Manoj’s competitive drive. At the end of the day though, despite all the competition, Manoj reflects that the most important thing is to simply have a good time on the court. Getting to know other players in the league has been great fun, and to then have the opportunity to push each other to get better at a shared passion is simply priceless!

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