CHENNAI: When Ankita Raina returned from Dubai in March, after helping India to a historic Fed Cup playoffs, she thought of taking a few days off before taking to the courts again. However what transpired was something completely different — the coronavirus pandemic has meant she hasn’t touched her racquet for ‘at least the 45 days’.
With the tennis season effectively suspended till at least July, Ankita admits to feeling uneasy. “Just thinking that you can’t practice and play matches, when that comes to the mind... it is a little uneasy,” she says. But she is quick to put it into perspective. “When you look at the people who have been struggling for food and not being able to go home, this is nothing in comparison. I said uneasy because we don’t know when we will be able to play. Things, however, are opening up. Sports may not start immediately but I’m in a positive frame of mind.”
Interestingly, she mentioned how her background might help in helping other people cope. “As an athlete, you find yourself in uncertain situations and you push yourself to try to overcome it. That way, I feel I can support and help family members and other people... for us it’s new but we are used to adjusting to uncertain situations if you get what I mean.”
And how has the 27-year-old been spending her lockdown? A combination of activities that include reading books, working on her fitness and zoom meetings focussing on yoga.
“I was initially doing small International Tennis Federation courses online. Apart from it, there was this workshop youth 2.0 on zoom for three days. There was another three-day course by ‘Art of Living’. I have also been watching videos of old matches and reading a lot of books,” the singles World No 163 says.
Staying fit, she admits, has been a test. “I don’t have many equipments with me so just doing body weight workouts, on the spot jogging and things like that... basically doing what most other athletes are doing.”
One of tennis’ current debate is composing a prize fund so that lesser-ranked players — the ones whose livelihood depend on the money they make on a week-to-week basis — are not affected. The Gujarat-based Ankita could potentially benefit from such a scheme.
“WTA has refunded the registration money to us, so that’s a big relief. Apart from that, my sponsor has continued supporting me.”