Indian tennis has been on rise for the past couple of years with the likes of Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan doing well on the ATP circuit. India’s 45-year-old Leander Paes is only getting better with the age and being one of the experienced campaigners will play an important role in guiding the youngsters at the games.
The upcoming 2018 Asiana Games in Indonesia presents yet another chance for Indian tennis contingent to have a go at gold medal that has been eluding the country for years.
If we look at India’s performance in the last four editions of these Games, the country has picked up a grand total of 18 medals in the sport and are again favorites to be among medals in Jakarta.
The team for the Asian Games 2018 is a healthy mix of youth and experienced who are still hungry for success.
India has been a dominating force in the doubles events while singles success has been hard to come by or has remained limited.
The current squad consists of some of the best talents of the country, who are hungry to prove that they are a force to reckon with at the international level as well.
In absence of India’s experienced women’s player Sania Mirza, youngsters Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi will be the biggest medal hopes in the women’s events. Raina is currently India’s highest-ranked woman in the country.
Karman recently won the $25,000 ITF Hong Kong tournament and will be looking to put up a strong show at the event. Winning a medal of any color would do boost her confidence. 24-year old Prarthana Thombare, will be looking to change the color of her medal in this year’s game after winning bronze with Sania Mirza in the women’s doubles event at the 2014 Asian Games. The young duo of Rutuja Bhosale and Pranjala Yadlapalli, would look to spring surprise at Jakarta.
In the men’s side, Ramkumar Ramanathan will be leading the charge in the singles events. Reaching the final of the Hall of Fame Open at Newport has certainly boosted his confidence.
Young Sumit Nagal will be keen to silence his critics over his inclusion over the likes of Purav Raja and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. Veteran Leander Paes add more strength with his experience in the men’s doubles and will also be a guiding force for youngsters in the side.
Therefore, while it’s a good sign for tennis in India that a number of youngsters feature in the Asian Games team this time, the experienced heads in the team will have to provide them with guidance and protection.
Leading the way for the veterans is Leander Paes, a man who needs no introduction due to his immense contribution to the sport.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Rohan Bopanna, and Divij Sharan will also be looking to put up strong show at the games. Both Bopanna and Sharan made the last eight of the Wimbledon men’s doubles event, which will ooze their confidence and help them put in a good show.
While men’s team will be expected to put up a strong performance, the inexperienced women’s side in absence of Sania Mirza will only find it difficult to progress to the further rounds. It is hard to predict the number of medals the team will be able to win, but with so many youngsters ready to put up good show, the signs for the future of the sport are only looking positive and it will be interesting to see how they perform against the best players Asia