Junior tennis star keen to make a mark in the international circuit

A student of Velammal school, Rethin Pranav had a semifinal finish in J200 at Delhi and Kolkata this year. Then in the Khelo India Youth Games, he bagged a gold in both singles and doubles for Tamil Nadu. In March, he won the singles title at J100ITF Juniors in Canberra.
Rethin Pranav
Rethin Pranav

CHENNAI: The year 2024 has been a remarkable one for 16-year-old Rethin Pranav. He not only made it into the top 100 in the World Junior Rankings but reached a career-best ranking of 88. He also bagged the prestigious TK Ramanathan award at the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA)  annual day awards function.

This award had been instituted by the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan in memory of his late father and noted coach. “Receiving the TK Ramanathan award from TNTA is always special given the long list of tennis legacy the association and Tamil Nadu tennis holds. I also received Justice PS Kailasam sir award for being the top ranking player in the 18 years category post my national title and their awards will certainly motivate me,”

Rethin told CE. “Along with the award, I cherish winning the clay court Under-18 National title in singles. I was also runner-up in doubles (Nationals) along with my long-term partner Kandhavel Mahalingam of Tamil Nadu. These wins helped me bag the highest award given by TNTA and the national crown triumph will always be special,” he added.

A student of Velammal school, Rethin had a semifinal finish in J200 at Delhi and Kolkata this year. Then in the Khelo India Youth Games, he bagged a gold in both singles and doubles for Tamil Nadu. In March, he won the singles title at J100ITF Juniors in Canberra. In an exciting final match, top-seeded Rethin gave a good account of himself against second-seeded Harry Pugh of New Zealand, eventually triumphing with a score of 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Rethin, who was ranked 118th in the world junior rankings, before this event, defeated Cruz Hewitt, son of former Wimbledon and US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt in the semifinals.

This win brought him close to the 100 ranking mark. After that, he won the J100 double crown at Mornington (Australia) and pocketed a J300 double crown at Nonthaburi, Thailand. In May, he was a finalist at the J100 held at Varanamo, Sweden. This month he was in his element to win singles at J100 Sobato, Poland. In the same event, he emerged as a doubles finalist.

“My father always told me breaking into the top 100 junior rankings was essential for getting the junior reserved spots for men’s ITF tournaments and qualifying for a Grand Slam. It was a good run in the last six months for me. From being ranked 369 at the end of October 2023 to improving in the rankings to 88 as of Jan 2024.

I decided to make full use of the Indian ITF junior tournaments from November 2023 to January 2024 with the target of qualifying for the Junior Australian Open 2024. I nearly succeeded by qualifying for the junior AO2024 but delay in visa grants resulted in me withdrawing from the tournament,” he said.

Rethin is aware that breaking into the top hundred is easy, but sustaining is important. “One needs to keep playing continuously top-ranking tournaments and win most of them. European players who play mostly higher grade (Rs 300-500) tournaments in their home conditions regularly are at an advantage over us.

Nevertheless, when you play aboard on different surfaces you get to learn different work ethics which is essential to survive in the circuit,” he explained. Rethin is confident that he will bounce back into the top hundred once again and insists that improving the quality of the game is more important and is working towards it.

He is part of the TNTA’s player development programme called ‘The Next Level’, and it supported Rethin’s travel for a month to Europe and play a series of four world ranking events, in which he reached two singles and two double finals. “TNTA has made it clear that they are making the transition for me to men’s tournaments post-Junior US Open in September. My concentration would be to compete in men’s hereafter. Having said that, my target is to play all the junior Grand Slams in 2025 in the main draw,” he shared.

The youngster who was training previously at the Rohan Bopanna academy in Bengaluru will now train at the TNTA. “Being part of the ‘The Next Level’ programme, I have been asked to come back to Chennai. I would be mentored by Somdev Devvarman along with the player development director Rajeev Vijaykumar from TNTA. The trust the members of TNTA  have shown in me was a crucial factor for me to shift my academic and training base to Chennai from Bangalore,” signed off Rethin, who is eager to qualify for the Junior US Open.

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