Ranjeet Singh was feeling it. He could see it in the eyes of the players who had surrounded him to hear his fairytale adventures in Spain. For the better part of the three-week on the exposure tour to Madrid as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CLTA and Madrid Tennis Foundation,Ranjeet could do little wrong. One title and a runner-up trophy in two tournaments in three weeks,in which he beat several seeded players,Ranjeet mesmerised his opponents with his own brand of spicy taste of Spanish tomato tango.
On Saturday,after returning from Madrid,Ranjeet,oblivious of the shutterbugs snapping up his pictures,had plenty of tales to tell. For someone who has shown plenty of promise over the past few years,Ranjeet surely had hit a purple patch in Madrid. Despite the jet lag and the signs of nervousness during his first-ever international visit,Ranjeet showed exemplary skills and mental toughness while taking on local favourites,to win the title. However,in his own words,Ranjeet did nothing special. “It was all about self-confidence. Before going to Spain,many questions went through my mind: like,how would I be able to stand up to foreign players,how the visit will go? But once we landed in Madrid,I felt at ease. The coaches and the players at the academy,where we trained,made us feel comfortable and while playing with the players,I realised that they were not unbeatable. Sure,they are physically strong and they go after every point,but if you believe in your game,then anything could happen. I just did that and managed to win the title,” shared the player,who defeated Bruno Andr Mardones Guimard 6-4,6-1,in the final of Under-18 age category of Club de Tenis Valdemoro Open.
In the next tournament,Ciucad de la Raqueta,Ranjeet had the chance to make it two titles out of two tournaments,but he had to satisfy with the runner-up trophy,a huge achievement nonetheless.
On wrong foot
RANJEET,and the five other CHART trainees,started off on the wrong foot as they faced visa issues. Once it was solved and they landed in Madrid,another problem awaited them. While the training went smoothly,it was the weekly tournaments that posed a challenge for them. Every time they got ready to step on the court,they did not know whether they would be playing on clay,synthetic or concrete court. Ranjeet,over the course of the tournaments,played on different courts every day. It put extra stress on his body,particularly knee,as Ranjeet needed to seek the assistance of the physio on several occasions. But it was worth it. Not only he defeated the top seed in the quarter-finals,he grew from strength to strength and went on to win the title.
While Ranjeet and Co spent most of their time playing tournament and doing drills,they looked forward to the moment when they were taken out on sightseeing tours. One of the biggest surprises awaited them on the last day of the three-week exposure tour when they were taken to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium,home to Real Madrid,one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
EIGHT years ago,when Ranjeet joined CLTAs CHART programme,nobody envisioned a bright future for him. At that time,Ranjeet could barely hold a racquet in his hand and tennis was a sport he was not familiar with. So,he sweated with the coaches on the clay courts for almost two years before he started playing local tournaments. When Ranjeet showed some spark,he was sent to neighbouring states to take part in AITA Talent Series and Championship Series tournaments.
Slowly and steady he climbed up the ladder of success and after creating ripples in AITA tournaments,started playing ITF junior and mens tournaments last year. However,he had his first brush with men’s tournament three years ago. “It was AITA Rs 50K men’s ranking tournament,where I made my debut in men’s category,and ended up reaching the quarter-finals. The following year,I bettered my performance and made it to semis,” said Ranjeet,currently 29 in AITA Under-18 singles ranking. Last year,he won gold and silver in U-17 and U-19 age categories in National School Games. He also made his debut in ITF men’s futures tournament in 2012. Till now he has participated in two ITF men’s futures tournaments,both held in Chandigarh.
Gajendra Singh,Director Coaching of CLTA,said: “The CHART players went to one of the most successful countries in tennis in the recent times. The level of the tournament was very good and that has helped in improving the level of the players. I was particularly pleased with Ranjeet’s performance. Then,there was Vikas Dahiya who showed such remarkable skills. Krishan Hooda has been playing tennis for only 14 months now but made it to the final in his age category. So,it was a very satisfying outing for the players.”