SPORT

Timely help for Iciri Rai

Kalyan Ashok

BANGALORE: : A year ago, Iciri Rai was on the verge of hanging up her racquet after a futile search for a sponsor to fuel her tennis ambitions. But her struggle has finally borne fruit and she is now all set to fly to Italy on Tuesday to train in Bob Brett's Academy in San Marino.

It is a dream-come true for the 19-year-old Banglorean. She owes it to former chief minister Mr. S.M. Krishna. Impressed with Iciri, he set in motion the search for sponsor and funds. He took the help of K. Govindraj, the Karnataka Olympic Association president, who managed to mop up Rs.2.5 lakhs as a first instalment to cover her training and tournament plans.

Iciri will be training with noted Aussie coach, Bob Brett, with whom she had done a stint a few years ago. In a chat with The Hindu, she said: "The gesture is overwhelming. I was at my wits end and thought of giving up tennis and concentrate on academics, because my parents were not in a position to support my game. But with this help, I can fully concentrate on the game and I want to get everything right by training with Brett again."

Iciri said that she would focus on improving her mental toughness and learn to use her power more effectively and also work on her footwork in her stint with Bob Brett. "He knows my game and I have a special bonding with him," said Iciri.

She would get back to India in third week of July and play in couple of Futures . "I plan to play the full course so that my top 13 results count," said Iciri.

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