Interview with Ankita Raina

10 September 2014

For the young Indian top ranked tennis Player Ankita Raina  it has been baptism by fire at  her very first WTA Tour event , she played her heart out as she went down fighting  to higher ranked player Risa Osaki of Japan in the first round of the qualifying at the Tashkent open WTA Championships being played at Tashkent.

Her  entry at the event  and subsequent loss has not dented her a bit , Ankita has found her confidence emerge and ray of hope to be a regular on the WTA tour henceforth . The Media Team of the Tashkent Open spoke to the young Indian about her experience and her future.

Share with us  your experience of  your debut tour event ?

Ankita : I have been playing many 25000  and 50000 ITF events , this year I played a $125000 WTA event , but this is my first ever tour event . It really a great experience and I was truly excited and overwhelmed  when I played my first match. I have an opportunity to watch top 50 players and also practice with them. Being with them just for two days has given me a lot of self confidence and a vision to look ahead as a professional player.

 I'm speaking to them , eating with them , training with them , I see the effort that goes into tennis and it is surely different than playing the ITF circuit , All I say is that I'm inspired and want to play the tour events regularly.

In just couple of days I have been able to get a lot of help from the WTA Physios who have given me a training programme to strengthen some of my body parts which they feel should get stonger , they have told me they will be helping me out through mails , it's really nice feeling.

After Sania , your are probably the first player to have played  on a tour event , how difficult it is for Indians  to get to this level?

It's great  that Sania has been there for so many years on the tour , I'm also happy that I have the backing of the Sports Authority  of Gujarat because of which i was able to play around 15 events abroad , this in turn helped my ranking . The support of the SAG and Gujarat's former CM and current PM Narendra Modi is truly been a game changer. I can think about my game and travel without tension of finances.  I would now like to travel with my coach  or a trainer , because at the higher level it helps.

Even during my match with Osaki at 1 set all , her coach came in and gave her tips and that tilted the match in her favour , so I guess presence of travelling Coach at this level of events   will surely help. I would also like to point out the contribution of my Coach Hemant Bendrey with whom I have been working since my childhood , not many Indian players are as lucky as me.

What more should happen for Indian tennis players ?

Things are moving in right direction , we have many more 10 K and 15 K events in India which has helped rankings of  many of my compatriots , but now we need higher level of events and also something like the $125000 event in India so it can help Indian players.

What have been the best moments  and regrets of the year ?

I reached the final of  a25 K event in Indonesia a few Quarterfinals in Europe My rankings have improved over the last year and I've gained confidence also I played for the country at Fed Cup and now will be playing at the upcoming Asian Games  . I regret not been able to make the US Open qualies  because of the change in the point system structure  where I had to defend double the points  I made last year and then subsequently play more tournaments to earn points.

About your selection  for the Asian games women's tennis Team ?

I'm looking forward to the Asian games , I'm happy that I will represent my country and becoming the first player from my state Gujarat to represent the Tennis team . There is good competition as we have all the top Asian players participating making it a tough event.. It's also great feeling for  me as Two of my Friends and practice partners Prarthana Thombare and  Natasha Palha and my coach  Hemant bendrey are all part of the team  along with Sania Mirza. We sincerely hope we will have best wishes of the entire nation and we can but we will fight and try to win a medal for the country.

Future plans?

I'm now preparing for the Asian games and then will be playing many WTA / ITF tournaments in the coming year with a view to at least get into the qualifying rounds of the Australian open and playing on the WTA tour regularly in 2015 .  My other ultimate aim is to make the Indian Olympic Contingent for Rio Games in 2016