Tennis

A big inspiration for everyone: Ankita

Proud teacher:Rutuja Bhosale, left, and Ankita Raina with coach Hemant Bendrey in Pune on return from Dubai.

Proud teacher:Rutuja Bhosale, left, and Ankita Raina with coach Hemant Bendrey in Pune on return from Dubai.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Gives credit to entire team for the historic achievement

It took Indian women’s tennis 30 years to make the breakthrough and make the World Group play-off. It has taken Ankita Raina only eight years. “This should boost Indian women’s tennis. It is a big inspiration for everyone and should give the girls belief,” Ankita said, delighted to be part of the historic achievement.

Impressive wins

The 27-year-old Ankita has been playing well on the circuit — won the 2018 Asian Games bronze and has had impressive wins in the Fed Cup, like beating Nao Hibino of Japan in 2016 and Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in 2018.

Summing up the experience, when she played eight matches in five days, won two singles and three decisive doubles with Sania Mirza, the 163rd-ranked Ankita was sharp.

Also read | Meet Ankita Raina, India's top-ranked woman tennis player

“Winning Fed Cup matches is completely different from winning on the pro tour, because no matter how good you are, you cannot win if you are not good as a team. You can be top-50, but if you don’t have two or three more good players from your country, it is tough,” said Ankita, back home, after the unforgettable week in Dubai.

Originally, the tournament was scheduled to be played in China, and was postponed and shifted to Dubai, following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Ankita has always pushed herself hard in the Fed Cup and while playing for the country.

“For me personally, it was a great example of pushing my limits much more than ever before, as I was playing two matches within half an hour. So playing a singles three-setter and then playing a doubles three-setter definitely showed how much you can challenge yourself physically,” she remarked.

Ankita played the most crucial singles rubber against Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia on the last day, when she had to rescue the team from 0-1 down, “play under pressure and make sure the tie goes into the deciding doubles”.

The best-ranked Indian woman in singles and doubles, Ankita gracefully shared the credit. “Our captain Vishaal Uppal did a phenomenal job of getting the team together and making sure we were supporting each other,” she said.

Also coach Ankita Bhambri and physio Anand Dubey were leading the cheering squad. Riya Bhatia and Sowjanya Bavisetti kept the atmosphere positive throughout and were always ready to help in practice, said Ankita.

While she was thankful for trainer Rutuja Patange being with her, Ankita was thrilled to accomplish the task with her fellow pro Rutuja Bhosale.

Significant presence

“It was great that Rutuja and me were part of this historic moment. We have played Fed Cup together and at different times. It was such a special moment that India qualified this time when we were together,” she said.

She also had a word of thanks for Hemant Bendrey who has trained them both. “Hats off to his dedication, sacrifice and perseverance for so many years.”

Having stopped looking for another Sania, Indian women’s tennis has started finding performers who inspire confidence of a bright tomorrow.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 4:05:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/a-big-inspiration-for-everyone-ankita/article31042837.ece

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