By Shashank Nautiyal
Shashank Nautiyal was born in New Delhi, India, and raised there by his parents Subhaskar and Kusum Nautiyal.
Tennis has a unique language: it speaks the language of Love-All (0-0)! The impact that tennis would have in my life is something I couldn't have imagined when I started playing it. When I turned 8, I began playing tennis and aspired to be the best. It all started with love and passion!
In the mornings, my father drove me around with Mr. Rajeev Dhingra for morning fitness, then he dropped me off at tennis practice. I remember walking from my home to Thyagraj Stadium, Green Park and Siri Fort. It made me resilient. Tennis kept me disciplined and out of trouble and opened opportunities for me. Neither I nor my parents knew what it took to be #1. From childhood till the early years of my college tennis career, success was based on rankings as the metric to evaluate myself (“champion” or “loser”). Reflecting on my journey through a different lens, I learned values and developed skills to build strong character. Mentorship provided me with different opportunities within my life, and hardships strengthened my persistence, discipline, and grit to endure and succeed. My parents always taught me to work hard! For a kid like me all I needed was guidance.
Tennis gave me hope to pursue my dreams. My experiences have been ranked second best nationally in Juniors, 384th best in the world in Juniors to Division 1 scholar, a student-tennis athlete in the US, having completed an MBA and MAEd in Exercise Physiology, learning through a number of educational leadership and tennis workshops, as well as being certified by USPTA, PTR, ITPA, PPR, PPTR, etc. I have served on tennis committees for the USTA/USPTA, to leading a club as Director of Racquet Sports. This journey has been nothing but the finest! Despite the challenges that I face today, I am still striving for growth and opportunities.
Having a growth mindset is a must to overcome any challenges and adversity we face in life. Being #1 or #384 is something I consider trivial as I continue to grow. True happiness comes from following our passions. For me, at the beginning that meant making a difference in my life and then giving back to others. Within my club, there have been stories of people of all ages, genders, and economic backgrounds who have gotten chances to play and enjoy tennis with the additional benefits and rewards of being healthy, mentorship, learning a life-long skill, socialization, seeking opportunities through networking, and being a part of a family that values and encourages everyone to be the best versions of themselves. Through tennis, as leaders, we try to inspire, motivate, mentor, grow, and help others succeed in what they want. It is a good sign when one strives for excellence. In contrast, the metrics are not driven by rankings, but by finding what fulfills them.
Regardless of the situation, I encourage and challenge all individuals to look at things in a positive light. It is easy to fall into the negativity trap due to our surroundings. However, I see that as an easy way out and a way to give excuses for not doing anything. We are tested by how we continually look for the positives and inspire others to do the same. "It's not our environment that decides our fate, it is our decisions that we make that decide who we want to be". We all belong to one race, and that is the human race. Love all and build!