Late-Starter Jeffy Trains His Guns on a Rapid Climb

ranked number 3 in Kerala, Jessy Jacob says the National Games rekindled the fighting spirit in him.

Published: 22nd July 2015 01:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2015 01:12 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Unlike badminton or volleyball, tennis is still a fledgling sport in Kerala — one which has flourishing grassroots-level talent-building programmes, but faces a perennial problem of talent erosion as groomed players quit at the senior-level due to its largely obscure status in the state.

Naturally, there are only a few names in the senior category that amounts to much in tennis in Kerala. One such name is Jeffy Jacob.

At 20, he is currently ranked number three in Kerala after Mumbai-based Haadin Bava and Rynold Timothy, and has, in his coach’s opinion, the ability to rise and become one among the top-20 players in India within this year itself.

“He is one of the promising players in the state. If he is able to maintain, or amplify, the intensity and dedication he puts in his career now, he will go places,” said KSEB player K Jayakumar, a former state champion and Jeffy’s coach.

“He started playing all-India tournaments steadily after he turned 18, which was around two years ago. In tennis, that is a bit too late for a national entry. But within those two years, he has done a lot of catching up and, as statistics say, is ahead of a lot of his contemporaries,” Jayakumar said.

Currently, a second-year degree student at Mar Ivanios College in Thiruvananthapuram, Jessy started playing tennis at the age of eight.

“I began it for pleasure at the Golf Links in Thiruvananthapuram, but soon got interested and started pursuing the sport seriously. I shifted to the Trivandrum Tennis Club a few years ago and have been playing the game for more than a decade now,” Jessy said.

“My target is to improve my national ranking. For that I have to play as many tournaments as possible and raise my national ranking to above 50. That will make me eligible to play international matches. It is not going to happen overnight, but I am confident I will reach there,” said the youngster.

Jeffy, who was one among six players who represented Kerala in the 35th National Games, said getting selected for the Games was what gave him a break in his career.

“I had thought I would not be able to play in the National Games. Just before the start of the camp, some six months before the Games, I was down with fever twice. When I got well, my fitness was poor and I missed a lot of tournaments.”

The selection to the Games team was dependent on the state ranking points the campers were supposed to have garnered over the six-month camp. “Since I was way behind my camp mates in the ranking, I had to slog it out a lot in the final months and I am happy I was able to do that,” said Jeffy, who stays with his grandmother in the capital city. His parents are working abroad and brother is working in Ernakulam as a physiotherapist.


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