Sport » Tennis

Updated: January 30, 2014 01:58 IST

Fringe players not in a hurry to take the centrestage

Kamesh Srinivasan
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Somdev Devvarman warming up during a practice session on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu
Somdev Devvarman warming up during a practice session on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ragu

They often find themselves in the fast lane, but the likes of Saketh Myneni, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Sanam Singh and R. Ramkumar are in no hurry.

“It is not a sprint. It is a marathon. You have to go step by step, and I like gradual progress,” asserted Saketh after a brisk training session on Wednesday at the Indore Tennis Club on the eve of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania draw here.

Having made significant progress last year with four Futures singles titles, the 26-year-old Saketh said that he was happy with the slow start to the current season.

“I am trying to stay healthy. You are driven by the rewards, and getting into the Davis Cup squad is a reward for all the efforts. It is a great honour to represent the country and I hope to play a good match with Rohan Bopanna, who is like a big brother to me,” said Saketh.

The strapping youngster, with a big serve and an explosive forehand, was quite modest when asked to recollect his victory over Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in the doubles quarterfinals at the recent Chennai Open.

“They are fascinating players, but were under pressure against us. We had a couple of chances and converted them. It helps to compete at a higher level at least once a year. I am grateful for the wild card,” gushed Saketh, who partnered 17-year-old Karen Kachanov of Russia and made the semifinals in Chennai. Unlike Saketh, Sanam Singh, who won the doubles rubber with Leander Paes in the Davis Cup tie against Indonesia last year and the Asian Games gold with Somdev Devvarman, did not have a good finish / start to the season.

However, the 26-year-old, ranked 394, said he was getting ready to climb up. “I want to be in the Davis Cup team. I need to be consistent for that. Hopefully, I will stay fit and improve my ranking as I do not have many points to defend after two months,” said Sanam.

Planning ahead

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who won two Asian junior doubles titles with Sanam, said he would plan this season smartly thanks to the experience gained last year.

“I understand that it is not a sprint, but we learn from experience. I need to work a lot on my game. My coach Bastian Suwanprateep from the Schuttler Waske Academy in Germany, is going to be with me for the three Challengers in Chennai, Kolkata and Astana. I plan on playing the main draw wherever possible and hope to make the Challengers regularly,” said the talented left-hander.

On his part, the new hero of Indian tennis R. Ramkumar, who had beaten the country’s No.1 Somdev Devvarman in Chennai after coming through the qualifying round, said he was working on his physique and aiming to be professional “every day”.

“I have been asked by my coaches Sergio Casal and Joan Balcells to stick to the basics. That helped me do well in Bhopal, Raipur and Cambodia. I was alone in Cambodia for two weeks, doing everything on my own. The good results have convinced me to work harder. Win or lose, I am going to give it my best in the Challengers,” said the 19-year-old.

“Every day, you have to be consistent. Even on a bad day, you should be able to compete hard and win. That is my goal,” said Ramkumar, even as he acknowledged the foundation laid by former National coach T. Chandrasekaran.

For the moment, it may be horses for courses in the Davis Cup tie against Chinese Taipei, but the colts are ready to bolt towards a bright future.

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