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Sania Mirza getting ready for battle Down Under

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Focussed: Tennis star Sania Mirza going through the sessions at the Bhupathi Tennis Village in Bangalore.
Focussed: Tennis star Sania Mirza going through the sessions at the Bhupathi Tennis Village in Bangalore.

Kalyan Ashok

She will participate in the Hopman Cup at Perth

Bangalore: Sania Mirza, the most visible face of Indian sports, is in town getting ready for the 2008 season with hard workouts at the Bhupathi Tennis Village along with Indian ace Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna.

Coming back from a knee injury last season, she did extremely well to finish on a high note in 2007 and hopes to do much better in the coming season, which begins with the Hopman Cup in Perth on December 29.

“It is really fun to train here with Mahesh and Rohan,” said Sania, who seems to enjoy every bit of the action on court, hitting it out with them. A daily two-hour on-court practice is followed by a rigorous workout at the gym with her physical trainer, Renuka Pinto. Renuka rates her ward’s fitness as “extremely good and ready to go.” It’s not just all work for Sania as she also took time off to watch the recent India-Pakistan Test and found time to catch up with her old friends.

Watching and supporting Sania on the sidelines are parents Imran and Naseema, who have always been with her, even on tour. “One of us has always been with her on the tour,” said Imran, a builder by profession, but who gave Sania her first lessons in the game. Though Sania is from Hyderabad, she virtually lives out of suitcases, travelling from one tournament to another, across the continents and she has coped with the grind extremely well over the years, making life easier for her parents.

“It has been a great week for us here, and we plan to wind up by December 23 and Sania has to go to Perth for the Hopman Cup, followed by the WTA Tour event at Hobart, a prelude to the Australian Open,” said Imran. “The practise here has been very useful and she really had fun. What she lacked in Hyderabad are partners to practise with,” said Imran. Sania’s younger sister Anam too is a sportswoman. “She is a good shooter,” revealed Imran.

Imran and Naseema have sacrificed a lot, and their focal point in life had been making Sania the super star that she is now in World tennis. The effort has been worth it, and Imran modestly observed: “We are not after any big returns. We are driven by the passion for tennis, which all of us have and for Sania”. Wish we had more Imrans in the country… willing to give everything to make their children’s sporting dreams come true.

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