Keralite shuttler Treesa Jolly targets Paris Olympics

Gayatri Gopichand (left) and Treesa Jolly
Gayatri Gopichand (left) and Treesa Jolly in action at the All England Open. File photo: PTI

New Delhi: Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand's dream run continued with the young duo making it to the Indian team for the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Uber Cup following its stellar display at the recently-concluded selection trials.

And the young pair is now focussing on returning with a medal from the upcoming major events, cracking the world's top 10 and qualifying for the Paris Olympics in two years time.

It has just been a little over 15 months that the two paired up but the duo has been like a house on fire, becoming the first Indian women's pair to reach the All England semifinals, winning the Odisha Open Super 100 and reaching the finals of the Syed Modi Super 300.

"Now the target is the CWG, Asian Games and Uber Cup and we also want to work hard and qualify for the 2024 Olympics," said Keralite Treesa.

"Main thing is the Paris Olympics, so our aim is to be in top 10 by next year. That is the target."

All of 18, Treesa hails from Cherupuzha, Kannur, where the seeds of badminton were first sowed in her by her father Jolly Mathew, who is a physical education teacher.

"My father is a physical education teacher, so he wanted his kids also to play the sport. My elder sister (Maria) was my partner in under-15, under-17 state events but I was performing better so my father motivated me to continue," Treesa said.

"When I started playing badminton, I realised that it gives me a lot of happiness. I remember watching Saina (Nehwal) at the Olympics, since then she has been my inspiration."

Treesa, who started playing the sport as a six-year-old, said she joined the Gopichand Academy just two months before the COVID-19 lockdowns were announced in 2020.

"I used to play singles and doubles but when I shifted to Gopichand Academy in January, 2020, Gayatri too had started playing doubles, so something clicked and we started playing together.

"But with lockdown, it was difficult as I had to go back home and we did the online sessions. In fact, Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup trials was the time when we played together and the first international event was at Poland."

The duo reached the finals of Polish International, won the Infosys Foundation International Challenge, before finishing second best at Welsh International.

But it was in 2022 that the duo made a massive breakthrough with a runners-up finish at Lucknow and a top finish at Odisha.

However, the icing on the cake was their performance at the All England Championships.

"We were playing All England for the first time and there was no pressure, we were just playing freely and so we could give our best. It was such a great moment, as there was no expectations," Treesa said.

Treesa knows expectations will be high from here on and she says it will be all about "adjusting to the pressure" and finding a way to "give our best".

The duo's on-court work has also been neatly divided with Treesa mending the back court as Gayatri manages the net.

"I am an attacking player, I am confident of attacking and to play at the back court with my smashes. Gayatri plays both, but she is good at net.

"It is different, when you play against the foreign players like the Chinese or Europeans. You need to be fitter and have more patience.

"The Japanese play 40-50 strokes in a rally, so we have to be of the same level. We need to be more patient to be in the rallies and also working mentally on the game.

"We have to adjust to the different style of games. I think we are comfortable with fast-paced games and we need to work on playing the rally game," she added.

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