Vihaan, 9, started off 2022 ranked first in the nation in the U11 division (players under 11 years old). Currently ranked third, Vihaan works with professional coaches and his father, Ravikanth Darbha, to increase his skillset. He’s been playing since he was 7.
“When he was 7 to 8 years old it was pretty casual play but in the last year we’ve put him in professional training,” Ravikanth said. “There are two or three coaches working with him every-other day and he picked up the sport really well at the professional level.”
Vihaan practices twice a day, before and after school, with one day off per week. He currently trains at the Triangle Badminton & Table Tennis club and is coached by Shruthi Javvaji. His goal is to represent the United States at some age level.
To accomplish that, Vihaan’s dedication to training is key, his father said. Time on the court will make him a better badminton player, but it also will increase positive elements of his character.
“The sport builds a nice character for him and the many, many challenges for his life,” Ravikanth said. “So, if he can build that in himself and be a successful man, who knows what lies ahead of him?”
Vihaan has competed in tournaments in New Jersey, California, Louisiana, Virginia, and Georgia. The key is to expose him to different playing styles, Ravikanth said.
“He’s getting to understand wins and losses. It’s not about winning all the time, it’s about the exposure. In training, he needs to give his 200% when he’s here, that way the tournaments will seem like a piece of cake.”
Ravikanth, who has been playing since he was 10, has seen much improvement from his son in the past year. He knows the day will come when Vihaan beats him.
“I’m looking forward to that day and I think it should happen this year,” Ravikanth said. “These kids are really fast. He needs to build strength, stamina, and endurance. I’m giving about 60% right now but will need to go full-on soon.”
That may be a match they’ll never forget.
Peak Charter Academy is part of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.