With ambition in heart and feet on the ground, Tushar Mittal had started his journey into the world of tennis from an early age. A winner of multiple All India Tennis Association (AITA) events across various age groups, the 17-year old’s upward trajectory has now been dealt a rather demoralising blow off the court.
Finalist in the CBSE Nationals for two consecutive years in the U17 category, Mittal currently struggles to participate in various tournaments due to financial constraints — specifically related to travel, both within the country and abroad.
Devoid of options, he took to Twitter on Wednesday with an earnest plea.
“I am a professional tennis player. My rank in India was number 8 and Delhi number 1 last year in U-16 category. My mom is a single parent and it’s getting difficult for us to play higher tournaments abroad or in India with our own expense. I need support. @SonuSood @imVkohli,” said the caption.
I AM A PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER. MY RANK IN INDIA WAS NUMBER 8 AND DELHI NUMBER 1 LAST YEAR IN U-16 CATEGORY. MY MOM IS A SINGLE PARENT AND IT’S GETTING DIFFICULT FOR US TO PLAY HIGHER TOURNAMENTS ABROAD OR IN INDIA WITH OUR OWN EXPENSE. I need support. @SonuSood @imVkohli
— Tushar Mittal (@TusharM96651790) June 30, 2021
Yet to receive any financial aid or support, the right-handed Mittal shed light on the matter in an exclusive chat with the indianexpress.com over the phone.
“Since the turn of the year, the number of tournaments that I have been able to participate in hasn’t been up to the mark. Although I participated in internationals in New Delhi and Indore earlier this year and won nationals in Jalandhar and Chandigarh back in 2019, the opportunities are scarce right now,” he said.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my overall preparation has also suffered a lot. Initially, I could hardly engage in practice sessions or fitness exercises as most of the courts and gyms were closed. After some time, my confidence took a hit as the detachment from tennis took a mental toll on me,” added the Class XII student.
“The irregularity has also resulted in a drop in my current U18 rankings to 45th.”
Mittal, who currently trains at Good Slice Tennis Academy in Paschim Vihar, New Delhi, said that tennis players from the national capital have suffered the most.
“I took to social media in an attempt to find myself a private sports agency… so that they can sponsor my equipment and my travel costs. Plus, it’s not only me,” he said.
“There are other players at my level in New Delhi who are facing tough times because of a communication gap with the authorities. Elsewhere, players from states like Gujarat or Karnataka haven’t been affected much with some of them even winning prize money in the range of Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 22 lakh,” he added.
When he is not honing his forehand strength or his ability to hit a volley on the court, the 17-year-old Mittal attends the Bal Bharati Public School, Pitampura. Even though it is quite frenetic for him to maintain his daily schedule, the Rafael Nadal enthusiast remains upbeat about both his short-term and long-term career goals.
“Having to constantly juggle between preparing for my board examinations and looking out for the next tournament can sometimes get quite hectic,” he said.
“But hopefully, with my continued hard work, one of the applications for the U.S. universities will get accepted soon enough. In the end, I want to represent India at major tournaments like the Olympics and play in the majors,” he concluded.