HYDERABAD: The city and by extension, State tennis hasn’t looked this strong in a long time. Of the four finalists in the just-concluded men’s and women’s Senior National Grass Court Championship at Kolkata, three were from Hyderabad.
24-year-old USreturned Saketh Sai Myneni emerged victorious to win his maiden trophy dethroning AS Suresh Krishna, last year’s champ. For 16-year-old Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy, it was hard luck as she went down fighting in three sets to seasoned campaigner Rushmi Chakravarthi in the women’s singles final. Notwithstanding her defeat, the very fact of a strong Hyderabadi presence in finals has once again put the city firmly in the driver’s seat in tennis years after Sania Mirza burst onto the international stage.
“In the past, it was Tamil Nadu which had at least 15 top players.
But it is AP’s time now.
We have tremendous talent here and I’m sure you will see more encouraging results in future,” says Saketh. It was also a proud moment for CV Nagaraj, perhaps one of the most successful coaches in the country. He made a hat-trick of sorts as three of his trainees, J Vishnu Vardhan, Suresh Krishna and now, Saketh won the national title. It could have been four in a row had PC Vignesh not lost out to Aushtosh Singh in the final in 2010.
“This year’s result is a perfect gift for the hard-working coach,” points out Suresh Krishna. Nagaraj’s Power Tennis Academy at the Railway Recreation ground in Secunderabad is a hub for tennis activity. Saketh like Suresh Krishna started his career at this academy as a young kid.
Hailing from Visakhapatnam, this lanky player came to the city to stay with his grandfather in Sainikpuri and learn tennis. He became junior national champion in 2005 before leaving for the US for higher studies at the University of Alabama. From 2006 to 2010, he was pursuing his studies and at the same time honed his skills in tennis. “It helped me become a stronger player, mentally and physically.
I had the opportunity to participate in the inter-collegiate tennis,” recalls Saketh, who on his return immediately came back to Nagaraj last year. The youngster, who has one of the most powerful serves in the game, has himself been methodical in his approach. “I did a lot of research on the game and fitness.
Sport is all about motivation,” points out Saketh, who got his first ATP points by winning the Futures tennis tournament in November last in Chennai.
Nagaraj feels that Saketh’s booming service is a potent weapon.
“He serves at around 230 kmph, easily the fastest in the country,” the proud coach says. So what next for this 6’3 tall young man? “I have to accumulate a good number of points before participating in tough tournaments outside the country,” he replies candidly and hopes to emulate his idol World No 1 Novak Djokovic.