12-year-old Chandigarh tennis sensation on a high after pocketing three AITA titles in a row
Three days after winning the boy’s Under-12 AITA Talent Series title,Rishabh Sharda was back at the CLTA courts,working on his serve and talking to the coaches how to get that perfect second serve to cut down on the double faults. He looked sharp,focussed,and most importantly,hungrier than ever. Certainly the victory over Sahishnu Sharma,that helped him win the title,had acted as a catalyst to boost his never-ending appetite for success. That was his third consecutive AITA Talent Series title,after his recent exploit at Dehradun last month where he claimed the boy’s Under-12 singles and Under-14 doubles titles.
“I am enjoying the joy on achieving hattrick of titles. The past one month has been very fruitful and it surely feels good to end on a winning note after days of hard work on the court,” shared 12-year-old Rishabh.
Not only has Rishabh been awarded for his consistent hard work on the court in the form of titles,but it has also placed him as the highest ranked Chandigarh player in the AITA Under-12 category at 16. Earlier this year,in the month of March,Rishabh had achieved his career-best ranking of 12,a decent effort from a player who his coaches have predicted,is destined to go far off places in the future. “At the moment,my eyes are on the Number One ranking in the Under-12 category. Next year,I will be 13 and will compete in the higher age category. So,I have only few months left to realise the dreams,” Rishabh reeled off.
Originally from District Una in Himachal Pradesh,when Rishabh took to tennis six years ago,not even in his imaginations he had thought he would end up collecting six AITA titles in a brief period of time. At that time,he was a skater- a pretty good one- and was earning accolades in the inter-state tournaments. Some predicted he would go far and represent Chandigarh at the national level. That,however,never happened as Rishabh bid adieu to skating and moved to other exciting sports,like gymnastics and finally tennis.
“Though everybody appreciated my talent in sports,I was told to get into a sport where I can really make a name for myself. One of my coaches told me to try hand at tennis,” recalled Rishabh,a student of St John’s School,Sector 26.
For the first three years,Rishabh did not take part in any major tournament as he thought he was not ripe enough to bear the physical attrition of the sport. Instead,he chose to work on his game,perfecting his shots,and was finally ready to scorch the court. He did not have to wait long for his first AITA title,and emerged winner in the Under-12 category in the AITA Talent Series tournament held at Amritsar last year. He has not looked back since then.
“I would say that my first title really gave me lot of confidence and made me look at the sport differently. Suddenly,I felt that I belonged here and I had the trophy to show it,” echoed the Class VII student,who idolises Novak Djokovic for his attacking style of play.
It was time for Rishabh to dream big and test himself at a higher level. In the national tennis tournament held at Mumbai in May,Rishabh did well for himself by reaching the pre-quarters in the Under-12 category. “Apart from talent,you also need a supporting family and good coaches to make it big in tennis. I am glad I have all,” he chuckled.
Next on the cards is the Under-14 Championship Series to be held in Chandigarh,another big tournament for him. With the way he was working on the basics,slugging it out on the court for hours,with never ending smile on his face,it seems title number four on the trot is in the offing.