With a string of victories Pragati Natraj is creating ripples in the women’s tennis circle
Pragati Natraj started her professional tennis career at the age of nine. But coach Thomas had spotted her talent when she was barely six and egged her on to take the game seriously.
It was at the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) Stadium, Nungambakkam in Chennai under Ratheesh Sridhar that Pragati started taking part in tournaments. The first was in 2007 but she got in the under-12 nationals in Gurgaon in 2008 where she reached the semi-finals. This was followed by under-12 and under-14 singles titles in the All India Tennis Association Championship series in Vijayawada in May 2009. She was awarded the most promising player award in 2009-10 and outstanding player in 2010-2011 by the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA). She won the R.R. Memorial tennis tournament in the under-16 singles and doubles category at Madurai Union Club in February 2011.
For her sheer consistency in the talent series tournaments all over the State, Pragati got the sponsorship of TNTA and trained in the Sanchez Casal Academy at Barcelona in May and June 2011. She also won the under-16 doubles title and was the runners up in the singles category at the National series tournament in Kavalli, Andhra Pradesh. .
Last year she started training in Bangalore under a new coach, Peter Vijay Kumar. She won the AITA championship series in the under-16 singles category at Bangalore last September. At the end of last year she was one of the 15 girls from all over India who trained along with the Federation Cup players in a National camp at New Delhi.
Her performance of winning a grand double in the under-16 and under-18 category in the R.R. Memorial tournament at the Madurai Union Club last week seems just the beginning. "I want to raise the bar and from now on play only in the under-18 category in future International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments," the Chennai girl brims with confidence.