As a little kid, J.S. Arun Raj was restless and naughty. Unable to control him, his parents introduced him to tennis. He was a quick learner and won the under-16 Kerala State title and later, the under-18 trophy thrice.
At 18, the Thiruvananthapuram youngster played his first State men’s final where he lost to Rynold Timothy. Arun was a promising youngster then but little did he know that he would have to wait for more than a decade to win the men’s title.
The 30-year-old was in tears here on Thursday after winning his maiden State men’s championship in his third final, this time against Thrissur’s U. Arjun.
“I wanted to win badly because I had played my first final here in 2011. I was thinking I’d somehow win the State title and then leave….even if it meant playing at 40,” Arun told The Hindu. “This is my best day in tennis.”
Arun was moulded into a fine player at Thiruvananthapuram’s LNCPE by former stars Binu Mani and Biju Mani. Now he plays with youngsters at the Trivandrum Tennis Club.
“I practise with players like Gautham Krishnan, Suraj and Nithin and that has helped me play better,” said Arun, a Tax Assistant with the Income Tax.
A few years ago, major injuries threatened Arun’s tennis career.
“Dr. Harish Chandran, who performed the surgery for my ACL problem, and physio Rafi helped me during those painful times. Without their support, I would not be playing today,” he said.
Now married (wife Aishwarya Babu is doing her MD in Ayurveda), Arun is learning to balance his family life and tennis. And by the look of things, he seems to be doing a very good job.