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Flying start for another city girl

Special Correspondent
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Nidhi Chilumala
Nidhi Chilumala

It may sound strange, but for Nidhi Chilumala it is an achievement in itself when she became the highest ranked WTA singles player from Andhra Pradesh – to be precise ranked No. 610 with the best ever women tennis player from India Sania Mirza ranked at No. 702.

In a way, this could well suggest the other side of Indian women’s tennis – the huge gap between a champion like Sania and the others who dream to emulate her feats. And moreover the champion player’s ranking dropped as she stopped playing singles because of a series of injuries.

Nidhi, who showed her talent by reaching the quarter-final and the semi-final of the ITF tennis tournaments in the city recently, is widely believed to be one of the best talent to emerge in the circuit.

The 18-year-old Nidhi still proudly recalls the days when she used to cheer up shouting ‘Sania, Sania’ from the stands in the 2005 Hyderabad WTA event.

Clearly inspired by Sania’s achievements, which include two Grand Slam titles, which continue to be a distant dream for many gifted players from India now, Nidhi took to sport at the age of eight and is a huge fan of Justin Henin of Belgium and Victoria Azeranka of Belarus.

One of the most unnoticed achievements by this talented youngster was when Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy presented a cash incentive of Rs.1.5 lakh for silver medal in the Ranchi National Games.

“Yes, it would be great if we continue to host many more ITF titles and it would be even more remarkable if Hyderabad were to host WTA events,” says a smiling Nidhi.

Her coach Neelakanteshwar Rao, who trains her at IRISET and Jubilee Hills Public School, is confident of his trainee going to places.

“She has the talent, grit, determination and the willingness to put in that extra effort in training sessions,” he reminds.

Nidhi is not so naïve to relax on her latest feat for she is in the mood to keep improving.

Eyes Grand Slam

“The road ahead is always going to be highly demanding and very competitive. There are no shortcuts for success. I will not be found wanting in my commitment and hard work to realise my dream of playing in a Grand Slam one day and then aim much bigger,” she says with all seriousness.

Right now, Nidhi is focussed to play as many as ITF events as possible to improve her rankings so that she crosses the magical top 100 mark to be eligible to compete in the WTA events.

“That is the first target and then I will think of other things,” she says.

“Yes, it will be great if we continue to host more ITF titles and it will be even more remarkable if Hyderabad is to host WTA events,” says Nidhi Chilumala

Ranked at 610th position, Nidhi Chilumala is the highest ranked WTA singles player from the State

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