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When did you start playing tennis?
I started playing when I was ten years old. My parents sent me to tennis classes because I was really plumpy and chubby. They just wanted me to stay fit and healthy and engage in some activity and fortunately, the tennis club was just about 10 minutes away from my house.
Any pre-match rituals you follow
Well, I am a bit superstitious. I never wear black socks to start with. I always wear my wristbands, cap and tie my shoelaces on the court, in order. I always keep the symbol of my racket which is Head towards the left side and the name of the racket towards the right while I am playing. I always wear the same outfit, as long as I am winning in a tournament. I ensure that I wash and dry it as soon as I reach my hotel room after my match so that it's fresh and ready for the match next day. During the breaks in a match, I make sure that I drink my water first and then take few sips of my sports drink, and never the other way round.
One match you are very proud of.
I won the Super Series National Tournament which was organized here in Guwahati Assam. I won it in 2014. Everyone including the ball boys, the organizers and even the parents of beginner kids who came to watch me play was so happy. For obvious reasons, my parents and coach were delighted and contented with my performance. No one expected me to win that title. It was a hard fight in the final. I won in the third set 7-6 and the tiebreak score was 9-7. I was down one set to love and then again 3-5 in the third. I somehow managed to pull it off in the heat of July and won the match after four grueling hours of tennis.
The toughest punishment given by your coach
When I was 12 or 13 years old, one evening, my coach made me run for an extra hour as I was happily talking during the 20-minute endurance drill. Some friends of mine also were punished alongside me. One of the girls started crying too but I was okay as I knew and accepted that it was my fault. It was frustrating though!
What would be your ultimate achievement?
The ultimate achievement would be, to find myself and my parents happily contented with my performance pattern, and obviously become the No.1 tennis player in the world.
How will you want to be known in 10 years from now?
I want to become a person who can inspire kids to become a better person and strive harder to achieve their goals. I want to serve as an example and be known as the epitome of hard work, thereby providing encouragement to young talent.
In what area of the game do you think you have to improve?
Well, I improve every day on court and try to learn and practice new things, striving to become better day by day. I am working on getting stronger, faster and leaner. I will probably start playing tournaments this June onwards.
Is sport a natural talent or a skill that is developed?
It's both, I think some kids are naturally gifted and some work their way towards acquiring their skills. I fall into the second category. I was not that talented, and I had toiled, to get to this privileged position, where I am right now. It doesn't end here, as I know that laboring consistently to become a better version of yourself is mandatory for any sportsperson!
Perk of being an athlete
You get acquainted with a lot of places, people, and languages. Most importantly, you are introduced to varied cuisines. Quite often, when fortune favors I get to travel with my best friends when our schedules match. It makes my travel a lot more fun!
When I met Rohan Bopanna for the first time. He was like so tall! He even signed my tennis ball. Also, watching Roger and Rafa play LIVE against each other in IPTL 2015, is indescribable!
Your biggest inspiration
It’s my parents. Watching their sustained efforts every day is a source of motivation for me. Amidst all the chaos, they manage to smile and joke with us at the end of the day! I would really like to see them relax and relish life for once, and I will make it possible for them one day.
What matters the most during 'Do or Die' situations?
Stay mentally strong. Just keep pushing to get that one extra ball inside the court every time. You ought to play every point like it's the last point, the last game of your life!
What are the most common roadblocks that stop athletes from achieving their dreams?
Well, I guess here it's the money. Sponsors never come forward to encourage budding players and ironically the already established athletes get all the assistance! Since they are left unnoticed, many talented and really good athletes leave their sport. In India, you need to be really rich to play tennis or really poor, as only then, they reach out to you. I belong to a simple middle-class family and I have been facing financial crisis all my life. My father really works hard to provide me with everything I need. He is my only financial support till date.
What is your most prized possession?
The trophy I was awarded for my All India Super Series victory in 2014.
Who had the greatest influence in your life?
My coach here in Guwahati has the greatest influence on me because he has had a really rough life growing up and playing Tennis. I love how he works. His work ethic is just unbelievable. I learned a lot of things from him and he is the one who taught me how to push for that one extra ball every time, no matter how hot or freezing it is or no matter how tired or anguished you are.
Currently, I am concentrating on my fitness and then my goal is to get a WTA rank. I am going to the US on a scholarship for college tennis this August. My goal is to make the most of it and get a national rank in the college circuit within my first season itself. In the future, I really am planning to try playing professional tennis and making a mark. I also have other goals for myself apart from my tennis goals.
Your childhood memories
I used to play cricket and race in my colony when I was like 6-7 years old. My friends and I used to play every evening from around like 4 till it got dark and my mother used to scream at me for that. I injured my right eye while playing cricket, as the batsman hit a 6 that directly landed on my eye, which is the reason why my right eye is smaller than my left eye. Once, whilst cycling, I wanted to overtake my friend but I ended landing myself inside the drain. It was gross as I was completely covered with so much of dirt! YUCK! I still feel that those were the best days of my life as compared to my life now. Now my life is pretty hectic. So I would for sure go back to those days and do all the mischievous things I did If I am given a chance.