Image Credits: .
Akanksha Nitture is a member of the new generation of Indian youngsters who appear ready to take the Indian women’s tennis onto great things and many titles.
Having found her passion at an early age by the influence of her father, prompted her to pursue tennis as a sport. The continuous exposure to competition coupled with her hard work ultimately propelled her to excel at the national level and there has been no looking back.
So far in her fledgeling career, Akanksha Nitture has four 250+ national level certificates, 80 trophies and 5 major gold medals and there are likely more coming.
Her achievement including winning of ATT 300$ Mysore women's tournament and doubles title at the ITF junior Indore, winning 1lac women's title, who captured the silver medal in the girl's U-17 category in the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games. She also secured the winning position at the Chennai national series in both singles and doubles; and the singles winner and doubles runner up in the Ahmedabad national series.
A Federer fan through and through, the 17-year-old ace, Akanksha currently No.1 in the state and No.2 in the nation and appears to be continuing her upward trend.
She may not explode into wider consciousness straight away but the next few years could be a pivotal moment in her career and she is certainly a name to keep track of for the future.
In the interview, the tennis prodigy from New horizon public school, Mumbai talks candidly about her tennis journey so far and what lies ahead.
Read: ‘Rocky, Happy Gilmore, and ESPN’s 30 for 30’ : Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan shares his favorite sports movies
When did u start playing tennis and what actually got you interested in the first place?
Being a tennis player himself in his heydays, my father sparked my love for the sport at the age of 5. My father is also a tennis coach, and as a kid, I used to tag along with him and started playing with him, and got attracted towards the game and it soon became my passion.
Who were your first tennis heroes? What was significant about their achievements or character that you admired?
As I was growing up my dad used to show me a lot of matches of Steffi Graf as she was former world no.1 and 22 grand slams champion. And also, I admire Roger Federer as a player on and off the court.
What do you like the best in tennis and why?
I love tennis because it’s not only a classy game but also, it’s a combination of physical, mental, technical and tactical skills that a split second to decide if you are going for a drop shot or backhand or forehand. For me, it’s also about the rush and excitement of accomplishing something in a sport that makes you feel great about yourself.
What else do you do? Is there something else that you do that you would like to perfect outside of tennis?
Apart from tennis, I mostly do activities that would help me in my tennis like swimming, gymming, and yoga. And in my free time, I enjoy watching TV shows and cooking. If I would get a chance to make myself perfect in something rather than tennis would be a good human being and also a good cook as I love cooking.
You must have played alongside some good names already, who would be your ultimate competitor?
Yes, I have played against a lot of good names already and as you know there is a lot of competition in and around India and many talented players coming up through ranks so I don't think I have an ultimate competitor as I believe that you yourself is the biggest competition.
As a young player, who where some of the people that you looked up for guidance? Who were the people you would speak up to get better at?
As a young player, I look up to some really good players of India like Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman as I have met them in person and asked them for some tips to improve my game.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Honest, hardworking, and different.
Are you good in your studies as well? If yes, how do u able to manage sport and studies? How supportive is your school or college towards your sporting career?
I was a good student in my school days but as my tennis court was far from my home and I couldn't manage to play two times in a day. So, my dad decided to stop my schooling and concentrate on full-time tennis. But when I was in my school days my school was supportive of my sport.
As a player, what are your strength? What are the area's you need to improve on?
As a player, I think and learn as much as possible and improve at the game to get better. I think my strength is my slice and drop shots as I'm doing it since I have started playing and now at the point, it's the shot, I believe the most in.
Teenage years are probably one of the most difficult times in our lives; we can imagine a lot of your time was dedicated to tennis- how do u ensure a good studies-training-social life balance?
I agree to the point of the fact that teenage years are the most difficult and most important that decides our future. It's really difficult to maintain a perfect balance in all the sections but at the same time, it's important to give your 100% in everything you do as you don't want to miss the fun of being in your teenage days and that this moment will never come again so you need to know to balance everything.
Would you like to have compete alone with Naomi Osaka and what would have been your tactics to bet her?
If I get to play with Naomi someday, it will be a dream come true. This would be challenging for me to think of some tactics to play against her but I'll try my heart out to put up my best tennis out there.
What is your most memorable tennis moment?
It's always memorable for me when I win a tournament as all my achievements have a special place in my heart. Because winning a tournament doesn't mean just an addition to my achievements but the process it takes and the hard work it takes is what make wins memorable.
If you could switch lives with another athlete from a different sport, who would you want to be?
If I would have an opportunity to switch my life, I would choose P.V Sindhu because she is such an amazing women athlete of India and I'm so inspired by her journey that she has put in her sport.
Many players have routines, habit's, superstitions they travel and play tennis. Do you have any individual quirky things you do before a game or special item you carry with you in your bag that must go with you everywhere?
I do have a routine for my daily tennis sessions and also my planning of tournaments. I have a small superstition of clothes I wear, it is like if I lose a match wearing a pair I don't wear that pair again in my important matches but I know that there is nothing related with my loss and my clothes but still I don't want to make changes on my important days so I skip wearing those pair of dresses and also sometimes my pair of socks.. There is nothing as such that I need to compulsory carry but I'm obsessed with having all my things with me even if I know that it’s a very rare chance of using it.
What are you hoping for your career, is there a level you would like to achieve?
Yes, I want to represent India at the Olympics and get a gold home because there is no women's player from India in tennis who has done it till date in the singles category. Also, I want to win a Grand Slam and make the country proud.
Federer or Nadal: Federer
Non tennis player you admire the most: P.V sindhu
One the song that always get stuck in your mind?
There are so many but currently, I'm in love with the song – Love me like you do by Ellie Goulding and Dance Monkey by Tones and I.
What’s something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you don't get the point of?
I can't say they are obsessed but maybe that some people diet with only feeding on meat which I think is not right because a lot of players also nowadays are turning into vegan.
Best complement you have received?
There are a lot of them but once an uncle who was the owner of some club watched my match and said I will definitely win a grand slam for India and that means a lot to any tennis player.