Often, a childhood hobby grows into a passion. But, with Nikhil Ranjan, this was not the case. The founder and CEO of William Penn started playing tennis only in his twenties, and he never imagined that he would pursue it diligently, whatever his schedule.
It goes back to 18 years, when he was only 23 and a neighbourhood friend invited him to a game. Before that, Ranjan had too little time for sports, busy as he was with career and college. After he went for that game with his friend Kunal, the two started playing regularly at Ranjan’s neighbourhood tennis court.
Every day, the two boys would take out an hour for it. “I started with people who were already familiar with tennis, and that inspired me to try harder,” says Ranjan. Watching others, he learnt to appreciate tennis better and took some lessons as well. Maybe, that is why Ranjan never considered professional training back then. “I struggled with my backhand technique. I remember how frustrating it was, initially. I kept fumbling while playing,” adds Ranjan. He also recalls one senior who was in his late 70s and still played tennis better than anyone at the court. He says, “I like this sport because I have learnt that this is one sport you can play at any age. Perhaps, it always inspires me to become better and I never wish to give up.”
The turning point came when he started taking classes to improve his skills. This was two years ago, and now he trains for an hour once in 15 days. “There is an urge to play better, in fact, an urge to do everything better. My coach helps me by being merciless in pointing out what I did wrong and what I did right,” says Ranjan. Outside of this training, this busy CEO plays four days in a week.
Being an early riser, Ranjan heads out for a game between 7 am and 8 am, and plays singles and doubles. His daily spot for playing is at the Koramangala Club, Bengaluru. He enjoys the friendly game with his friends and has no wish to play competitively, no matter how many hours he trains. “I often tell people that the one hour of my game of tennis is the best hour of my day. I tend to forget all worries when I play. It makes me realise that there will be days when I play well and then other days, when I play badly. Tennis, to me, is a way to unwind.”