For a young tennis coach like Ankita Bhambri, future of Indian women tennis is bright thanks to the talent in the circuit. Her mantra for success for them is “work hard and follow the passion like Sania Mirza had in her time to conquer the world”.
Bhambri has been the India women’s team coach since the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. Ankita Raina won bronze in the singles. Overall Indian tennis players finished with a gold and two bronze – Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan won the doubles and Prajnesh Gunneswaran claimed a singles bronze.
Bhambri is hopeful of the women’s team winning more medals in the Hongzhou Games, to be held from September 23 to October 8. “All four, Ankita, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale and Prarthana Thombare, will leave their mark on the Games; they have been in good form and are ready to make it count. They have been playing international tennis with consistency, I am sure it will help them achieve better success at the Asian Games this time,” said Bhambri at the Asian Games camp here on Monday.
On the future of women tennis in India, the former India player said, “There is no dearth of talent in the country and the repeated success of top Indians at the international level has been a big inspiration for the younger generation.”
“My father used to say that nothing is impossible in this world. You must have a destination in your mind. If you know where you want to reach, only then can you find the road to success. I tell this to all youngsters in the country,” she added.
Bhambri, who won silver at the 2002 Busan Asian Games (she won nine singles and doubles titles each on the ITF Circuit), said: “Sania endorses the belief that if she can do it in the sport, others too can. She has been a role model not only for Indian and Asian players, but for world tennis players as well as she has done well in her career.
“What Sania has achieved has been exceptional… A fairly long career, her fighting spirit etc., are lessons to learn. The road isn’t going to be easy, but I see many junior players and their parents are willing to dig deep and take that path and aim for those highs.”
She felt the success of Rohan Bopanna (US Open men’s doubles runner-up with Australia’s Matthew Ebden) and Sumit Nagal (ATP Tulln Challenger runner-up) will boost the confidence of other Indians at the Games. “It’s a big success just before the Games,” she said.
“In the past too, the presence of players like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania in the team at the Asia Games kept motivating others. The success of every player matters a lot when they get to play together on a big stage,” said Bhambri. She pointed to her own doubles success at the national championship as a 15-year-old partnering Sania as one of the biggest moments in her career.
“No one expected us to do something big, but we finished on top. I have known Sania since I was 12… we made our Asian Games debut together in 2002,” said Bhambri, who played in the Doha (2006) and Guangzhou (2010) Games.