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Tanvi Bhat back to school to spice up her game

Stan Rayan
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BOOKS BECKON:Tanvi Bhat is returning to a regular school for a 'happy distraction' and stay focused on the game.— PHOTO: H. VIBHU
BOOKS BECKON:Tanvi Bhat is returning to a regular school for a 'happy distraction' and stay focused on the game.— PHOTO: H. VIBHU

Tanvi Bhat is excited about going back to school. The Choice School here reopens on Monday after the summer vacation and the 13-year-old is happy that she will be back among friends.

But there is a bit of worry too. “I am excited but also scared,” said the young girl.

Tanvi hasn’t been to school for the last three years. The Asian under-14 tennis champion quit regular school after the fifth standard at Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir, Elamakkara, to focus on her game and pursued academics through the open school system. She now feels like a new student all over again, with all the anxieties, as she gets ready for her eighth standard.

Great six months

The last six months have been wonderful ones for Tanvi, the sister of former Kerala junior champion Aditya Bhat. She has now risen to a career-best No. 5 in the under-14 Asian rankings.

After winning the under-14 Asian championship in Qatar in December, she came up with some impressive results the last few weeks in the Asian series event in Bangalore where she finished runner-up and in the junior national circuit tournaments in Mumbai, where she pulled off some stunning upsets in the under-16 category, and in Bangalore which she won.

But while her showcase is packed with trophies, Tanvi, the brightest star at the RSC-Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy here, felt that she has been missing out a lot in life.

“I was missing all the fun,” said the young girl who is coached by Mansingh Thapa and former State champion K. Shankar. “Just sitting at home, going for tennis and back, I don’t know anything that’s going on here. I was jobless, it was getting boring.”

Happy distraction

School, she feels, would be a happy distraction. And it would also help her stay focused on the game.

“I think by going to school, I won’t have an overdose of tennis,” she said after a four-hour session at the Regional Sports Centre. “May be, it will help my tennis too.”

But the return to school also comes with some anxiety for the youngster and her dad, Dr. Sanjay Bhat, who travels with her on the circuit.

At the Bhavan’s, Tanvi found herself locked out quite a few times as she came late for the school assembly after the fitness sessions. “Even if you are five minutes late, the watchman would not let you in,” she said.

Choice School has promised to be more accommodative. She will be allowed to miss the assembly and skip about 25 per cent of her school days. But that may not be enough.

Tanvi has some important tournaments lined up in the next few months, including the Chennai Nationals in August.

“The goal is to get into the junior Indian team and go for the big events,” said Dr. Bhat. “If you see the ranked players above her, not a single girl is going to regular school. They are all attached to regular schools where they just need to pay the fees and write the exams. That system is not there here.”

Despite a huge national campaign to give sport a prominent place in schools, it’s often a hard life for promising stars in many schools.

Our talented stars make many sacrifices in their pursuit of excellence; they need to be given all the support and encouragement to make their dreams come true.

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