Her dreams lay shattered when a late entry to the organisers denied the golden chance to represent India in the 2012 London Paralympics. The 15-year-old Shaik Jafreen who admires glamour star Maria Sharapova could have realised that the sport is not all that glamorous for the lesser mortals like her in India.
Yet, displaying pure passion, this hearing impaired tennis player from Kurnool has set another big goal – to win a medal in the Sofia Deaflympics tennis competition this summer in which she will be representing India, if only the officials don’t bungle up this time around.
Life has never been easy even for her father S. Zakeer Ahmed, an advocate, who is going all out to support her. She showed promise by making it to two doubles AITA ranking tournament finals partnering Kirti Behera.
“It is not easy at all. Even to find practice partners you have to pay a minimum of Rs. 500 for two hours,” says Zakeer insisting that tennis not the sport for people like him. “Yes, I have to support her for once when I threw up my hands for want of funds, she did not touch food and was in a lost world. So, I decided then come what may to encourage her as much as possible which means I need to spend about Rs. 4 lakh per annum,” he recalls his troubled times.
With no sponsors, Jafreen’s father is clearly struggling. He even disposed off his plot in Kurnool to give his daughter training in KSLTA for one year some time back. She now frequently trains at the Sun-Jay Tennis Academy in Hyderabad for occasional training stints.
This 10th standard student of Sri Laxmi High School (Kurnool) is a major attraction at most of the age group events for her sheer spirit and unbridled zeal to be good in the sport.
So, when this Andhra girl won the women’s senior national deaf championship title in Punjab last year, she got selected to represent India in the London Paralympics along with three other girls.