Shining bright on the horizon of tennis Yuki Bhambri reveals many reasons for his success, one of them being his elder sisters’ achievements in the field

Twenty-year-old yet the boyish charm refuses to give way to sterner expressions. Many would say, he’s still young, isn’t he?

But, what if Yuki Bhambri’s countenance has already acquired a permanent appearance? How would you explain that?

May be, the youthful look can be attributed to the player’s status as the youngest member of a successful tennis family. Young and full of energy, Yuki has achieved the greatest success among his siblings. The Australian Open Boys Singles’ title (2009) enjoys a special status among other achievements in the family trophy cabinet.

The roots of Yuki’s success story, though, were laid even before his birth. In the early 1990s, his eldest sister Ankita was denied entry into a tennis academy as the four-year-old girl was too short to pick up a racquet.

The incident, however, didn’t dampen the spirits of the Bhambri parents and they resorted to throwing balls at the kid for practice, their love for tennis finally manifesting itself in their efforts to make their children successful professionals. Years later, a slightly older Yuki began playing the game with a more than usual dedication to the sport thanks to the exploits of his elder sisters Ankita and Sanaa.

“I used to travel with my family for tournaments. My sisters would come back with trophies and then we would celebrate it, which motivated me (to play),” says the 20-year-old. If Yuki still lacked motivation to become a professional, it came from a sentiment many of us have experienced in the past. “It is funny but I just wanted to get away from school,” quips the world number 273.

Yuki’s career path, though, was relatively easier. Having already gone through the drill with Ankita and Sanaa, Inder and Chandu Bhambri were better placed to navigate the choppy waters.

Being the first to play tennis professionally in the family, Ankita couldn’t have done it without her parents’ love for the sport, she claims. “I was an experimental child,” says the 26-year-old. Yuki and Ankita spoke on the sidelines of Genesis Conversations, held at Genesis Global School on Thursday.

It was a tougher journey for the young Ankita. “Between the age of seven and eleven, I played only boys. There were no girls around.”

While Yuki benefitted from travelling with his parents, the sisters didn’t enjoy such comforts. “I once had a scary experience in Nigeria with Sanaa. There were riots and buses were put on fire. But we didn’t tell our parents since we wanted to play another tournament,” reminisces Ankita.

Her progress was stymied by the lack of sponsorship. The eldest sibling has unfortunately retired now. However, Yuki will surely not suffer a similar fate.

With the likes of IMG, Adidas and Babolat in tow, the 20-year-old has adequate support to reach the next level in his career. “It’s motivating for a young player to not have to worry about his next pair of shoes or racquet,” says Ankita.

On the fringes of competing in major ATP tournaments, Yuki has an opportunity to extend the success story of the Bhambri family.