Last year, among the few Pune girls who made it to the Masters (qualifying rounds) of Road to Wimbledon Championship—UK’s largest junior grass tournament—was Sharanya Gaware. Unfortunately, she lost in the semi-finals and her journey to the dream tournament ended.
However, instead of feeling disheartened, Sharanya decided to give her 100 per cent the next year. The Masters of Road to Wimbledon were held in Kolkata last week and 14-year-old Sharanya emerged as a finalist. The four finalists from India-two boys and two girls (including Sharanya)-would be playing at the tournament in London in August.
“I had set an eye on this tournament since last year. Therefore, in the last few months, I have been working hard on my game. I wanted to qualify for the finals and hence gave my everything,” says Sharanya, who defeated Tanisha Kashyap in the final round 3-6, 7-6, 7-4, 3-6.
Ask her about her strategy on the court and she replies, “I don’t get perturbed by my opponent and focus on my game. Whether I am losing or winning, I just keep striving till the end and keep attacking the opponent. Even when I’m losing, I play with the same spirit.”
Sharanya cites an instance to elaborate. In the semi-final round of Masters of Road to Wimbledon, there came a time when she was in the third set and was 3-0 down. “It was a tough match; I was tired but kept trying and applied all my energy. I didn’t want to lose after coming so far. Finally, I won 6-4,” she recollects.
Sharanya follows a strict regime wherein she takes a two-hour tennis coaching under Aditya Madkekar at Solaris Club and an hour-long fitness training under Kaifi Abdul every day. Her mother says that Sharanya developed an interest in the game after seeing her elder brother, who is 18, and also plays tennis.
“When she was six, she started playing the game,” says Manisha Gaware, her mother, who is particular about Sharanya’s diet and makes sure it’s protein rich. Sharanya won her first tournament when she was nine years old.
After that, she won several tournaments in different parts of the country. “By the time I was 12, I knew this is what I want to do and make a career in. I aim to be world number one and play Grand Slam,” says the young tennis player, who admires ace players like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic.
Sharanya not only excels in tennis but academics too and has always scored above 95 per cent every year. She studies at Symbiosis Secondary School and would be going to 9th grade this year. Question her how she balances between tennis and studies, she says, “Whenever I am travelling, I take my books along. I am constantly in touch with my friends to check what was taught in school. As soon as my matches get over, I spend time studying.”
Other than tennis and studies, she prefers reading, especially books by Agatha Christie. Besides, she loves hanging out with friends. Though she confesses that owing to her tight schedule, she misses being with her friends, she doesn’t get disturbed by it.
“When one knows what one wants, then other things don’t matter. For me, it’s tennis that needs more focus on my part,” she says, adding that now that she has made it to the Road to Wimbledon Championship, she will focus on all areas of game, be it forehand, backhand, volley, serve and especially footwork.
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