Tennis

Zeel’s zeal impresses Clark

Feels that she is becoming more professional in all aspects of her training and match play

It’s not easy to win against a player who has the home advantage. Zeel Desai realised this after battling it out for nearly four hours — three hours and 55 minutes, to be exact — before being beaten by top seed Sandra Samir of Egypt in the ITF women’s final in Cairo on Sunday.

The title may have eluded her, but the 21-year-old Zeel, accompanied by coach Todd Clark, got a firm grip on her game and temperament during the campaign.

By getting past quality opponents with authority, prior to the summit clash, Zeel showed that she had improved by leaps and bounds. To prove her all-round ability, she made the doubles final as well.

For someone who was quite impressive at the junior level, reaching a career-best rank of No. 18 in 2017, Zeel looked to have made a smooth transition to the senior grade when she won the women’s title in the ITF circuit the same year, in Gwalior. It takes time to gain experience, and Zeel has spent the last two years acquiring it.

Coach Todd Clark, who has groomed Zeel in the last few years at the Ahmedabad Racquet Academy, is confident that Zeel, ranked No. 686 in the World, would break into the top-500 over the next three weeks when she competes in Tunisia.

Tough competitor

“It is great to see an athlete evolve, both physically and mentally. Zeel competed from the first point until the last, and physically was in good shape at the end of the match,” said Clark, pleased with his ward’s performance as well as the composure with which she handled the contest.

“Zeel is becoming more professional in all aspects of her training and match play. It is exciting to watch,” said the coach. “She is learning from each and every match, regardless of the outcome. Today’s match [the final] was no exception. I am confident that the result [loss] will further strengthen Zeel’s mental resolve,” said Clark.

For a tough Australian like Clark, there is no room for excuses and only drive and desire matter if a player has to move forward. Zeel is on the right track and moving ahead at a brisk pace, a positive sign for Indian women’s tennis.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:01:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/zeels-zeal-impresses-clark/article31025525.ece

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