February 15, 2021 12:21:17 am
When asked what it felt like to be the World No. 1 in the Under 14 Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) rankings, Pune’s Manas Dhamne humbly said it felt good and that it was a very important milestone in his tennis career.
After participation in three recent International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Tour, including the recent one held in Kathmandu earlier in February, Dhamne is paving his way for his next goal — to be among the top 100 in ITF Juniors rankings.
UTR is a global tennis 16-point rating system and Dhamne is currently holding a rating of 11.36.
On the shelf that holds 78 trophies and a couple of medals, some of the 13-year-old’s notable achievements are the U-12 singles title in Eddie Herr International Junior Championship 2019 win, the Orange Bowl International Championship 2019 third place trophy, a bronze medal from the Qatar Asian Junior Team Cup U-14 held in Miami USA and a medal from the Pre Quarter Singles U-14 Les-Petits. He was also the U12 National Champion in 2018, Singles winner in U-14 Les-Petits as Asian playoffs at Bali, Indonesia in 2019, winner in ITF Asian Under 12 finals at Kazakhstan in 2019 and ITF Asian Under 12 South East Gold Medal for India in both singles and doubles at Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2019.
How it all began
“I was four-and-a-half years old when I saw some children playing tennis while I was on the bike with my father. That is when I was officially introduced to tennis. Thereafter, on my fifth birthday, along with my parents I was enrolled into Solaris Sports World. Later, under several coaches I started to play district and state level tournaments and I have many accolades from then. Subsequently, I started to play the tournaments that are conducted under All India Tennis Association (AITA), which helped me in weighing my skills and also gave me the exposure to strong players. Now I have entered the ITF Juniors circuit and reached the qualifying quarters in Delhi and semi finals in Gurugram in January. Currently, I am also signed for a five year scholarship with IMG Academy,” Dhamne said.
“One of the things I brought my focus towards during the lockdown was fitness. The living room in my house was converted into a mini gym, where I tried to follow the fitness regime described by IMG. Fitness is an aspect I feel is something that needs to be stressed upon as players in Europe, United States and other countries work very hard on their fitness, giving it the utmost attention. It is something that we fall behind and might affect overall performance. After the lockdown eased, I began my practices with coach Ravindra Pandey, who has known me since I was five and was also assisted by Sandeep Kirtane with my leg work. I was associated with Adar Poonawalla Maharashtra Tennis Academy which also helped me develop my skills.”
“I am planning to be part of the ITF to be held in Chandigarh in March. As far as my academics go, I have had tremendous support from my school, Bishops School. My school faculty has made arrangements to conduct my examinations if I missed any. Apart from that, I have my family to support me through my tournaments. My parents travelled with me for all my tournaments while my elder sister eased my academics whichever way she could.”
“The immediate goal is to enter the top 100 ITF Juniors so that I can play the Junior Grand Slams. Thereafter, as I grow older I want to enter the senior Men’s circuit, with an aim for the Grand Slams… India is doing very well in tennis… We still need to work on our fitness as one regime cannot be for all players.”
Tributes pour in
“What he is doing at his age is phenomenal. Many players of his age try to play their own events but Manas is trying to play well above his age. These are things that matter when you play professional tennis to gain such confidence… He deserves the help that he gets from us as it adds value to what we are thinking and doing for the players,” said Sundar Iyer, joint secretary, AITA and general secretary, Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.
“It is a fantastic achievement as being ranked number one at any age group is very special as not many tennis players from India have achieved that. He is a very special player. I have had a long association with him since 2018. He has a very good temperament and he is going to be somebody the country will be proud of. His parents, Manoj and Nikita, too, play a key role to give their time and patience. After many years, here is a boy who belongs to the international arena,” said Sandeep Kirtane, professional tennis player.
Ravindra Pandey, founder RPTA Tennis Academy and head coach at Solaris Sports, said, “He has been with me since he was five. He is disciplined, sincere and hardworking towards tennis. He is sharp and is able to make quick judgements when it comes to recognising mistakes in his opponents. Although he is 13, mentally he is very mature and strong. I am proud as Eddie Herr is a tournament that has been won by Grand Slam winners and Manas has the potential to do the same.”
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