“Every time I learn something new, I come back to ground zero,” says KE Ranganathan, managing director, Roca Bathroom Products. Six years ago, while he was dropping his son for tennis lessons, he saw people his age playing the sport. In a spur of the moment, he decided to take it up as a challenge. Today, tennis is very much a part of the 50-year-old’s daily routine. The sports aficionado has already pursued cricket and badminton, both of which he continues to play regularly even now.
But tennis is different, he adds. He describes how the game is not only physically strenuous, but it can also be intellectually satisfying. It doesn’t only involve running faster and taking shots; a good part of the game calls for strategic planning, Ranganathan points out. Reminiscing about his time as a beginner, Ranganathan says, “People stared at me a lot in those days. I wouldn’t blame them. All I did for the first three to six months was tap the ball!”. But, perseverance was the name game, he discovered soon. “Patience and hard work is key to learning the sport of tennis,” as it is in business too, and Ranganathan pushed himself to achieve both. And what motivates him to push even harder on the court? “My 74-year-old doubles partner is my inspiration. I feel young watching him play and often wonder if I could even be on the court at that age.”
He formed some of his closest friendships, all thanks to the sport, and often travels with them to attend global championships such the Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open. For him, tennis is his daily battery charger, keeping him energetic and positive throughout the day. He says, “Five years ago, I would feel very lethargic by the end of the day. But now, this lethargy has transformed into positivity.
Tennis is not just a form of fitness for him, but also a great form of learning. Like all sports, tennis comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming them, according to Ranganathan humbles you and pushes you to work a lot harder. There is also a spirit of sportsmanship that the game affixes to your personality, spilling over to one’s professional life. “Professionally, tennis helps me deliver better. It is a game, after all. You may lose, but you may also win. That attitude has transferred in my work life as well. I have started becoming more accepting of the ups and downs in life,” he says. As a beginner, when he could barely manage rallies, he was called a ‘one-shot wonder’. Today, reflecting upon his progress and expertise in the game, he is nicknamed the ‘multi-shot wonder’. A strong believer of having a life outside and beyond of work, Ranganathan is now driven to acquire expertise in newer activities that offer up challenges. His next target? Golf.