Image Credits: @Sandeepti Singh
There is a long list of promising young tennis talents in the country and Sandeepti Singh Rao is arguably the most intriguing of the bunch.
The Faridabad native has begun her journey into the world of regular competitive tennis at the very young age and has risen through the ranks and her solid performances have seen her represent India at U12, U14 and U18 level.
With 1o national titles, along with multiple podium finishes and several international appearances at all youth levels for India, Sandeepti is seemingly on the verge of another big leap forward.
Specializes in both singles and doubles, Sandeepti represented India in Under-14 World Junior Cup (Asia Oceania Group) in Bangkok in 2017 and quarter-finalist in Road to Wimbledon Championship at Wimbledon, UK in 2017. In recent years, she made it to the three finals of ITF events.
The exciting thing is that this is just the very beginning of what we're going to see from her. Still just 18 years old, the DAV Public School student has plenty of time to make the step-up and will only continue to improve as she gains more experience at the highest level.
How long have you been playing tennis and why have you chosen this as your sport?
I have been playing tennis for the past ten years. Being a hyperactive child, my parents put me in the nearest sports academy, incidentally, that was a Tennis academy. I developed an interest in it and eventually became my passion.
Playing tennis just further pushes my love for the sports and every day is a learning curve to be traversed and get to continuously push myself to new limits.
At what point did it sink in that you could be really good at Tennis? And how were you noticed at the State/National level?
When I reached the finals of U-12 Nationals at Mumbai (I was unseeded). The media has given a large coverage to that event.
Who were your first tennis heroes? What was significant about their achievements or character that you admired?
Roger Federer and Rafal Nadal.
Federer – because of his cool and calm nature on court and Nadal – for his fighting spirit and agility on court.
We all know that you are successful in your sport. But the first win and the first trophy is always special. Do you remember your 1st success as a tennis player? If yes, how will you describe that moment?
Yes, I do remember it, it was my very first tournament of life, an U-8 at Faridabad district level and I was the winner.
Tennis on an elite pathway requires dedication and commitment; aside from providing funding and transport for training, how did your parents support you emotionally pre-competition?
My parents have supported me at each and every moment. They never put me under pressure either for studies or sports. Emotionally whenever I was disheartened, I always found them standing by me.
Are you good in your studies as well? If yes, how do you able to manage sports and studies? How’s your school/college has been supportive towards it?
I am normal in my studies. My School has allowed me to attend my training sessions and tournaments. Teachers have been very supportive and guide me after school time and even supported me to manage my homework.
What would you say is one aspect of your game that is a real strength for you?
My agility on court.
Despite your young age, you seem to shoot well under pressure. Please tell us about your mental game.
‘I can do it’ approach at any stage of the game.
Even if a person reaches the pinnacle, there is always scope for improvement. And in sports, you should improve daily. A healthy competition or rivalry often helps a sportsperson to improve. So, who is that shuttler with whom you have a healthy rivalry?
Pimrada Jattavapornvanit of Thailand.
Throughout your tennis career so far what do you think was the hardest hurdle to get over? Where did you have to really push yourself and why?
It was my first-round match of the Junior ITF J3 tournament at Chandigarh, 2019. I was playing against top seeds of the tournament who are ranked below 100 and was one set down. During my rest time with a cool mind, I resolved that I have nothing to lose. That helped me to relax and play my best and eventually I the won game.
To this point, what's been your best moment or favourite moment in tennis?
What sacrifices did you find the hardest in order to pursue your tennis career, and would you say that tennis has changed you as a person?
I sacrificed my school life and school time friends. Yes, tennis has changed me – it made me a self-reliant and mentally strong person. It is during this time that I can let all of myself go and live in the moment. Every time I play, I leave feeling stronger – mentally and physically.
We know that tennis players are always trying to improve. What are some things you are presently working on?
My physical fitness to play at Women Tennis.
What are your plans and goals for your life in tennis? How do you see your future in the sport? Do you plan to stay involved in tennis for many years?
My dream is to play WTA tournaments and represent India at the Olympics. I wish to play as long as I can. Yes, I want to be attached with tennis for a longer period.
Which celebrity do you want to team up with for a doubles match?
What is your go-to shot?
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on the court?
When I accidentally hit and injured my doubles partner during the match.
Federer or Nadal?