USA Table Tennis What's New Nikhil Kumar - Inter...

Nikhil Kumar - Interview

By Rahul Acharya | Dec. 01, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

Nikhil Kumar (CA, USA)

Left-handed Nikhil Kumar of San Jose, CA may be only 12, but he is already a world-class player. Earlier this year, Nikhil won the Boys' Singles title at the 2015 ITTF World Hopes Challenge held in Shanghai, China (For those of you who don't know, the ITTF Hopes is a highly-competitive talent identification program that selects 16 boys and 16 girls, ages 10-11, from all over the world to participate in a week long training camp and tournament).

Nikhil's performance at the national level is equally impressive. He won the U13 title at the 2015 U.S. Open this past summer. I met Nikhil at Westchester TTC, host of the 2015 North American Championships and had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I hope you enjoy getting to know him. Enjoy!

Quick facts about Nikhil Kumar:
Highest USATT rating 2511
Ranked #1 in the U.S. for Under 13
2015 U.S. National Mini Cadet Team Member
Sponsored by Stiga and ICC

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Nikhil Kumar, Winner of the 2015 ITTF World Hopes Challenge
Photo: Henry Lee
With Nikhil Kumar at the 2015 North American Championships

1. Congratulations on winning the 2015 ITTF World Hopes Challenge. How does it feel? How did you prepare for this event? And, tell us about your experience at the Hopes Challenge.
It feels really great to have won it! Before this, I prepared a lot for this event. I trained harder than I did earlier that year. The facility was amazing and I had a lot of fun. I made many new friends. The training camp was very tiring, but I think that I played well during the camp. We trained for about 6 hours everyday. The Chinese coaches were very encouraging and supportive.

2. When and how did you start playing table tennis?
I started table tennis when I was 6 years old with summer camps at ICC. I started regular training at around 8 and played my first tournament also around that time. 

3. What equipment do you use?
Blade: Stiga Clipper CR
Forehand rubber: Calibra LT Spin
Backhand rubber: Calibra LT Spin

4. How often do you play and train? 
Currently, I train everyday for 2-3 hours. On the weekends, I play more.

5. Do you think that being lefty is an advantage?
I think so because I can create wider angles against a righty compared to a righty playing against another righty.

6. What are your goals with regards to table tennis, both immediate and long-term?
My immediate goal is to make the cadet team at the U.S. Nationals. Longer term, I hope to be able to make it to Olympics at some point.

7. Tell us about your most memorable match. 
My most memorable match was against the China provincial team member in Cadet Team quarterfinals at the China Junior and Cadet Open last summer. I won 3-2 and we went to on reach the semifinals.

8. Who is your favorite international table tennis player? Why?
I do not have a favorite player in particular, but I admire the Chinese National Team players.

9. Couple of rapid-fire questions:
Talent or hard work? Both
Best chance to win - player with skills or player with confidence? Player with skills
21 point games or 11 point games? 11 point games
Poly ball or celluloid ball? Poly ball
More drills or more practice matches? Practice matches
More practice matches or more tournaments? Tournaments
To cho, or not to cho? Cho...

10. If you didn't play table tennis, what other sport might you be playing?
Soccer. I played actively till I was about 11.

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Nikhil, thanks for your time and good luck with the upcoming National Team Trials!