BANGALORE: When she was seven years old, Annika Kannan was very keen to meet the tennis champion sisters, Venues and Serena when they landed in the Garden City to play in the WTA Tour Bangalore Indian Open for Women.
There was a clinic for young and aspiring children at the KSLTA Stadium. Annika enrolled herself in the clinic hoping to be near her idols. But she was disappointed as they did not turn up due to other engagements. The organisers sent China’s Peng Shuai and Sun Tiantian instead. Annika picked up a racquet and patted the ball back as the Chinese duo rolled it towards her. She very shyly tried to make contact but missed the first time. She did manage to do so at the third attempt. The little girl’s talent was just beginning to show.
Annika soon joined the Kinesis Tennis Academy and coach Krishna Kumar had a potential champion in his care. She managed to enter the semi-finals in multiple tournaments. In January 2013, wild card Annika had stunned third seed Prathana Prabhakar with 6-4, 6-7(11), 6-4 to make the Girls Singles Semifinals in the Bulldog-AITA U-14 Issac Das Memorial Talent Series.
Annika was selected for the Under-12 Inter-state Tennis Meet in Delhi in June 2013. Karnataka bagged the silver medal and Annika was part of the team. She had a medal around her neck for the first time. Success in an individual event was round the corner for her.
She then won the Under-14 girls title in the AITA Championship Series organised by Topspin Tennis Academy, Bangalore. Her victory was sweeter as she defeated top seed Prarthana B P in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.
Annika was at the KSLTA Stadium witnessing the Davis Cup World Group play-off match on all the three days in the company of her parents. Her mother Prathima is a national tenpin bowling women’s champion and also represented the country in the Doha Asian Games in 2006. Annika’s father Kannan was a keen bowler and is now the secretary of the state association and the national federation.
With parents who are themselves deep into sports, Annika has all the support she needs at home. “We plan to send her to Spain for a three-month coaching series so that she can improve her game,” said Kannan.
Annika only needs to put more muscle into her shots. Surely, we have a tennis champion in the making.