Primary school teacher’s son, Sumit Nagal, a Wimbledon champ

In 2007, Sumit was selected for a training camp at the RK Khanna Academy and it was there that he was spotted by Mahesh Bhupathi

Written by Vishal Menon | New Delhi | Published: July 14, 2015 12:34:18 am

THE NAGAL household in Nangloi, West Delhi, is abuzz with activity. Guests, neighbours and curious mediamen have been pouring in. In the midst of such frenetic activity, Suresh Nagal, 53, greets you with a warm smile. “My phone has been ringing non-stop since Sunday evening,” he says. The conversation is interrupted after an elderly gentleman, who is well into his seventies, greets Nagal. “Masterji badhai ho,” he adds.

Despite catering to countless guests and attending to several calls, Nagal is not flustered. He is proud. Proud of the fact that the son of a primary school teacher now has a Wimbledon title in his kitty. At 17, his son Sumit had won the junior doubles final in Wimbledon, throwing the generally laidback Nagal household out of gear.

“I am proud of my son’s achievements… it has been my ambition to see him play competitive tennis at the top level. This title will help instill more confidence within him,” Suresh says.

Suresh remembers the supreme confidence with which his son had promised him of winning the coveted title before leaving Delhi last week. Sumit’s confidence notwithstanding, Suresh was a tad nervous before the big game.“I was a little anxious, as I did not want my son to falter at the final hurdle. Thank God, he had managed to win,” he adds.

Early start

Suresh is a die-hard Pete Sampras fan, and as such tennis was the only sport that demanded attention in the Nagal household. From an early age, Sumit observed and learnt about the game by watching the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. However, it was Novak Djokovic who had managed to impress a young Sumit.

Though not the one to put posters of Djokovic in his room, Sumit was extremely good with statistics and numbers.

“He would remember the number of Grand Slams Federer or Sampras had won, and would also know the scores of every Djokovic game at crucial Grand Slam matches,” Suresh says.

Coming from a humble background, Suresh would never get to play tennis, but his love for the game meant he would do anything to see his son succeed. So, even though the earnings from the primary teacher’s job was not much to go by, Suresh got his son admitted at a tennis camp in Paschim Vihar.

In 2007, Sumit was selected for a training camp at the RK Khanna Academy and it was there that he was spotted by Mahesh Bhupathi among a group of 14. It altered the course of his life.

“Obviously, his role cannot be discounted. He spotted my son when he was barely 10 and took him under his wings. Mahesh was like God-send to us and he has taken care of his training ever since.”

Ever since he was spotted by Bhupathi, Sumit has spent less time in India, criss-crossing more between Toronto in Canada and Frankfurt in Germany, where he has been training and honing his skills.

Suresh believes his son’s forehand play is the best in his age, and going forward, he wants his son to improve upon his backhand and make the leap to the senior level. What he has in abundance, however, is self-belief.

So what’s next on young Sumit’s radar. “He won’t be back in India till September. After Wimbledon, he will be in Frankfurt next week to play another event,” he notes.

“We are anxiously waiting for his return. We have planned a surprise for him,” Suresh concludes.

Till then the Nagal household will pause and savour their son’s triumph, the phones will not stop ringing and neighbours and relatives will keep pouring in.

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