B Chetan Anand first held the racket at nine years old, and would go on to win his first single title within another nine years. A stylish and graceful player of his era, Anand’s talent was spotted by Bhaskar Babu of the Sports Authority of India. “My father Harshavardhan used to play badminton and I used to accompany him although my first love was cricket. I was a `good’ all-rounder in SBI Colony in Vijayawada, but in one of SAT’s drive, Bhaskar Babu sir observed my game and asked me whether I’m interested in badminton,” recalled the 39-year-old, who studied B.Tech (Mechanical) from Siddhartha Institute of Technology in Vijayawada.
Within one year of transitioning to badminton, Anand started demonstrating glimpses of his rich talent. Though a particularly talented individual most of his early success came from doubles. “My first State title came in doubles in the under-12 category and I was runner-up in the nationals in 1990. I also won the national under-15 doubles but the singles title continued to elude me until I broke that jinx in 1998 when I won my first under-18 title. This title gave me a lot of confidence and I began to focus more on singles from that year.”
The transition from junior to seniors was a smooth one as Anand began to climb the ladder. His attacking game was noticed by none other than Prakash Padukone who even sent him to the World Academy camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Somehow I began to enjoy my singles”, remarked Anand, “and I was able to move up the rankings.” The Vijayawada-born shuttler captured the singles title in the Asian Satellite championship in Bengaluru in 2000.