Thursday, September 6, 2012

New face of tennis

The Hindu                                                                                        -   The School Of Power Tennis              
Tennis Saketh Myneni is upbeat on his selection into the Indian Davis Cup squad
ChampspeakJ. Vishnuvardhan, Suresh Krishna and Saketh Myneni in Hyderabad. (File photo)Photo:V V SUBRAHMANYAM
By strange coincidence, two Hyderabadis – Jagadeesan Vishnuvardhan and Saketh Myneni – might well represent the changing face of Indian men’s tennis. For these two young, talented players are named in the Indian Davis Cup squad for the next round of Asia-Oceania Group I match against New Zealand in Chandigarh from this September 14.

Saketh is delighted and feels it a huge honour to get a chance to represent the country in such a prestigious championship. “As any sportsperson will feel great about the chance to play for India, I am no exception. This is what I have been waiting for,” says Saketh. Another interesting aspect is that both Vishnuvardhan and Saketh are trained by the untiring and dedicated coach C.V. Nagaraj.

Effectively, the journey from the backyard of RRC Grounds in Secunderabad to the Davis Cup squad is also a reflection of a remarkable story of triumph of commitment, hard work and intense desire to keep improving over adversity. “I take pride that both of them come from my school – School of Power Tennis Academy,” says a visibly delighted Nagaraj.

“Ever since I was 14, Nagaraj sir moulded me into a performing player. I am fortunate to have such a gentleman as a coach,” says Saketh, who won the Senior national championship early this year, beating his friend and Academy teammate Suresh Krishna in the final.

For this gifted player, it can be a simple case of moving closer to realising one of his dreams – to play for India in the Davis Cup – when he is named in the national team for the next round of match in Chandigarh later this month.

“I don’t want to think in terms of pressure because of expectations. Rather, I will love to take it up as a challenge,” says the 6-foot, 3-inch tennis player.

Saketh, who’s done Majors in Finance & Economics from Alabama University, is aware of what it means to be business of winning in a sports arena too. “It would be unfair to even think of replacing the greats like Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. I mean we all grew up watching them achieve glory,” he says.
What is remarkable in the case of Saketh is that he came back last year to India after a five-year stint in US where he combined academics and tennis with ease. “We have a long way to go. So in that context, I would personally love to look at Davis Cup selection as a huge opportunity rather than anything else,” insists the young champion who admires Andre Agassi a lot.

This 24-year-old tennis player, who won the Junior nationals in 2005, believes his big serve – often touching 230 kmph – is his strong point. For someone who loves the grass court, Saketh is working hard with his coach to master many finer aspects to be a much better player.

Interestingly, The national champion believes that learning is an endless process and that any one keen to be good should be ready to face the challenges that come his or her way. “I don’t look at Davis Cup selection as the end of it all. It can be the beginning of a new chapter for me in my career. The onus is on us to perform,” signs off the young champion.