Winning two international junior titles this season has given 16-year-old Mohit a chance to participate in the forthcoming French Open junior championship
After returning from a two-and-a-half hour practice session in the morning at the Singaram Pillai Tennis Centre, Mohit Mayur knows he can't afford to relax. The shy lad has too many things on his plate and is hard-pressed for time. For Mohit, one of the top junior (under-18) tennis players in the country, every minute is precious. Practice is followed by rest, then studies — he is doing Std. XII through correspondence — and more practice. Hard work and persistence have slowly and steadily taken him to the top.
The 16-year-old has been in prime form this season, having recently clinched two back-to-back International Tennis Federation Junior Grade III titles last month in Dhaka. “The twin victories have given me immense confidence. The first tournament had many Indians and I didn't find it difficult. But in the second tournament, I had to beat two top seeds from China in the semifinals and final respectively — the top seed even had a men's ranking. So it was not easy,” says Mohit.
More than anything else, what the twin wins did was push Mohit up to 79 in the ITF junior rankings, possibly putting him in the main draw of the French Open junior championship to be held in May. Participation isn't all for the 16-year-old as he is determined to win one junior Grand Slam title before going on to compete with men on a regular basis. “It is a great honour representing India in the French Open. Being the only Indian in a draw of 64 makes me happy. I am keen to do well and improve my rankings further,” he says.
The 2010 Aircel Chennai Open was an eye-opener for Mohit. Playing in the qualifying round of the tournament for the first time, he went down, but not without a fight, to Jan Minra of the Czech Republic. He matched Minra shot for shot in the first set and lost 6-4; and then lost focus to bow out tamely. “From the Chennai Open, I realised the value of fitness and the need to focus on each and every point,” he says.
The moving force behind Mohit is his father Jayaprakash. A University-level boxer, the 45-year-old guides his son in all matters and is the primary reason for his rise. Though without a job, Jayaprakash has been able to find enough sponsors for Mohit. “Well-wishers, friends, and the Tamil Nadu Association, especially Karti P. Chidambaram, vice-president, All India Tennis Association, have been a huge source of help and support,” says Jayaprakash.
To perform well in the forthcoming junior French Open and Wimbledon, Mohit leaves Chennai today for Spain where he'll play in different tournaments for three months. “This is the best preparation Mohit can get for the French Open juniors. With Spain as a base, Mohit will play in the French Open and Wimbledon,” says Jayaprakash.
A huge Andre Agassi fan, Mohit, ranked No.2 in India in the junior (under-18) section, says over the last year or so, he has improved several aspects of his game, especially his mental approach. “The way I approach a match has changed. I am focussed now and don't hurry my shots,” he says. Mohit is on the right track and had better remain so.