While he was just 16, he had already bagged the Junior Australian Open (Singles) title-- becoming the first Indian to do so. Three years later, now he is not only a regular on men’s national circuit, but also is a bright prospect for the Indian Senior side in the coming years. Presently ranked 423rd in the world, the Delhi-lad eyes to win a senior grand slam title.
After having a setback due to knee injury, he looks confident while playing in the Fenesta Open 2011. In a conversation with Akshi Aggarwal of Indian Sports News, he talks about the phase he went through during the injuries and the present scenario. Excerpts:
ISN: How does it feel to be back after injury and playing well on the national circuit?
Yuki: The ankle and knee injury have kept me away from the courts. Now that a lot of time has been lost, I would like to better my game and my rankings eventually. I now wish to work really hard for the season.
ISN: You started your career long time back. Tell us something about yourself and the transition in your performance?
Yuki: I started playing tennis at the age of six as a recreational activity. Having elder sisters already into the sport, it also got me glued to it. I used to practice on the Sirifort Courts, which is very near to my place.
Excelling on the junior circuit and with a number of titles in hand, I got more absorbed in the sport and that’s how the journey is on. I’m growing up and making the transition every time I play.
ISN: What are your views on the tennis scenario in our country?
Yuki: I have been training at the IMG Tennis Academies under Nick Bollettieri and while I’m here I train under my coach Aditya Sachdeva . All I can say is that there is a lot of talent here as well. What lacks is the will to take it to the next level. There is lesser number of domestic tournaments here. For instance in Spain , there are thirty tournaments annually. Players get the taste of competition at home itself and therefore ways of improving and tracking their shortcomings. With more sponsors and tournaments, tennis will be placed really well on the national sport scenario.
ISN: Competing at the senior level after excelling on the junior circuit is a different ball game. How do you rate the competition here?
Yuki: The level of competition increases. Another difference between the junior and senior level is that the game at senior level become more physical. The basics remain the same throughout but the ways to explore different angles and shots is what gets better.
ISN: What else do you like other than tennis?
Yuki: I like all kinds of sports. I love cricket. Also, reading and swimming keeps me engaged while am not training.
ISN: Who do you credit your success so far?
Yuki: My parents have stood by me all these years. It feels great that at least one of them accompany me over matches. My sisters have been a constant support.
ISN: What about your sponsors?
Yuki: I have got Adidas and Babolat as apparel and equipments sponsors and Last year Mahindra Club signed me for a five year sponsorship contract.
ISN: What are your hopes in the Fenesta Open?
Yuki: I’m playing my best and hope that I come up with title. It’s not easy as the top seeds are playing well. No matter what may be the outcome, I’m learning and it’s going to help me in the longer run.
ISN: Message for tennis lovers?
Yuki: It takes hard work to achieve your goals, and you learn in every phase of life no matter it’s a defeat or a victory. What matters is living up to one’s dreams with no turning back.