PYC girl Ankita all set for her tryst with Roland Garros clay

Jigar Hindocha
Friday, 18 May 2018

It’s a dream come true. It was my wish to play in a Grand Slam tournament one day and now it will turn into reality. I want to thank my coach Hemant Bendrey who had faith in me. I also want to thank my family and sponsors for their constant and continuous support. 
—Ankita Raina (Indian National champion)

PUNE: Ankita Raina came to Pune when she was just 10 years old and from there  on her bonding with the city began. Ankita, now 25, will become first Pune-based player to take part in the year’s second Grand Slam, the French Open, which starts in Paris on May 21.

Raina will play qualifying tournament at the French Open from Saturday.

Her journey was not a bed of roses, instead it was of full of challenges and tough roads that she travelled with sheer of calmness and patience.

“I have been patient in the tough times. I am glad that I had support of my family and my coach Hemant Bendrey. In a life of an athlete there is always ups and down. If you are down for the long time then how one mentally copes with the situation is important,” explained Raina, who is India’s top ranked women’s singles player at 187.

Ankita has been in good form since November last when she lost in the quarterfinals to Amandine Hesse of France 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in Mumbai Open 125k  WTA event.

“Mumbai Open was the turning point. I must thank the organisers. In the tournament like this we get a chance to play higher seeded players which gives us a very good platform. As a player we need more such tournaments. 

After Mumbai Open, Ankita raised her level of game as she won Fed Cup matches against China. Although India lost a tie, but Ankita defeated two Chinese players, who were ranked above her.          

“Playing in the Fed Cup was a completely different feeling than when you are performing on pro circuit. Name of a country written on your back and coaches along with teammates cheering you up is a very special feeling. It happens once in a year so I wanted to give my best,” Raina said.

“Many of my teammates were playing the tournament for the first time. I had the experience in the past, but since I was leading the team this time it was my responsibility to give the best show,” Raina added.

For the Ahmedabad girl, relocating to Pune turned out to be a masterstroke as things fell in place with time.  

“Sometimes things are destined to happen. It helps, if you have everything at one place, which I get at PYC. Many players tell me that they don’t get everything at one place so for me it was a nice tiding,” said Raina.

- The Lakshya foundation supported athlete Ankita is thankful to the sports NGO for providing her support from initial days of her career.
- “We definitely need sponsors. Because you are playing 25-30 week tennis and you cannot win everyday so saving points becomes more important.
- “Role of sponsors become important as one can focus on performance than worrying about losing points,” explained Raina, who was felicitated by Lakshya on Thursday.
- After Sania Mirza, Raina will become first Indian woman tennis player to take part in the French Open in Paris.
- “Although grass is my favourite surface, I have played  a lot on clay courts here at PYC, which has been helpful.”

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