Prarthana Thombare, 22, lives in Hyderabad – same city as her idol and Rio 2016 Olympics women’s doubles partner Sania Mirza. Even more fittingly, she trains at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy (SMTA) under Imran Mirza, Sania’s father. Originally, she hails from Barshi in Maharashtra and travelled 70kms a day to train in Solapur. But after stints in Solapur and then Pune, she decided she needed a big move to justify her ambitions and career and that’s when the move to Hyderabad happened. Thombare picked up the racket at a young age after seeing her grandfather play but unlike him, she was good at it and eventually wished to take it up full time. She, like most youngsters, started with ‘wall tennis’ but soon it progressed to the one-court option in Solapur with limited facilities. She’s added 11 titles in doubles on the ITF Circuit in the past two years and has become a top player on the ITF Circuit in the double’s section. This won’t be the first time Thombare has partnered with Mirza having already played together in the Fed Cup and winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
Career Highlights: Thombare has bagged 11 titles in ITF doubles in the past two years after a bronze medal with Mirza at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Record: She might be the ‘unknown’ in a field of big names at the Olympics but there is no denying she’s on the up with an increasing doubles ranking of 190 – a career high (as of 27 June, 2016).
Qualification: Thombare qualified after an AITA selection committee chose her to represent India in the women’s doubles category. As an interesting anecdote, she found out about her selection courtesy congratulatory text messages because she was on a flight when the decision was made.
Event: Women’s doubles (with Sania Mirza)
Schedule: Women’s doubles will be played on August 6 or 7.