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Despite being only 16, Sarah Dev already has plenty of experience in her nascent career.
An ardent fan of Maria Sharapova, Sarah Dev is quick, mobile and hard-working; the type of player that never gives the opponent a break.
The precocious youngster has had a sensational rise in recent years, and among her many, many accolades include Fenesta Nationals tennis Championships U-14 Singles Winner, U-14 Doubles winner and U-18 Doubles winner. School nationals U-14 individual silver medalist, U-17 Individual and team event gold medalist, and U-19 individual bronze medalist.
She's also ITF Juniors J-4 Chennai, India (August 2019) Singles Winner and doubles Semifinalist, ITF juniors J-5 Indore, India Doubles Winner, January 2019.
Not only that, Sarah has also represented the county at the various events, including representing India at Roland Garros Future tennis ace tournament U-14 in Paris, France (2016). She represented India at U-14 Fed Cup 2017, ITF world junior’s tennis competition Asia/Oceania final qualifying event in Nonthaburi, Thailand and India at HBSC Road to Wimbledon finals in London, England, (2017). Represented India in U-14 at WTA future stars Singapore (2017) and well truly she established herself as one of the exciting up-and-coming talents in Indian tennis, there are high hopes for Sarah.
The Harvest International School, Jassowal, Punjab student currently ranked No.4 player in U-18 in India; with Asian ranked 10 by only playing two tournaments.
There will be a lot of responsibility on her young shoulders but she should get plenty of opportunities to demonstrate her talent in the next few years.
When did you start playing Tennis? What actually got you interested in the first place?
I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. Looking at my brother play tennis and to go with him for his sessions got the interest in me. That’s how my love for the game initially developed. Gradually when I started competing and winning and learning, I started to enjoy it even more and I knew that this is something that I wanted to do and chose it as my career.
Who were your first Tennis heroes? What was significant about their achievements or character that you admired?
Maria Sharapova. She is one of the players I’ve loved to watch and admired ever since following tennis and definitely contributed to my interest growing. At the first place, I liked how she carries herself on the court and her dressing sense which is mixed with fashion and sporty style.
What do you like best about tennis and why?
The pressure of the game and I love the adrenaline it gives me every time I step out on the court. Not only that, tennis has also taught me many lessons about life at a young age and I am grateful for every lesson the sport has taught me.
What else do you do? Is there something else that you do that you like to perfect outside of tennis?
I love travelling, listening to songs, drawing, cycling and making new friends.
You must have played alongside some good names already, who would be your ultimate competitor?
I have played with Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters. A bit exaggeration but ultimate competitor would be Serena Williams.
As a young player, who were some of the people that you looked up to for guidance? Who were the people you would speak with to get better at?
My dad and my brother. I didn’t need to go anywhere as my brother was a tennis player and now, he is a coach and my dad is a fitness trainer. I spoke to them about all the problems I face or any other help I needed. They always tell me which is best for me as my brother has already gone through, so his experience has taught me not to make the same mistakes and what he didn’t get at that time. He sacrificed his career for me so I can be a pro player. Which is something very big and I hope I achieve it.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Friendly, honest and responsive.
Are you good in your studies as well? If yes, how do you able to manage sports and studies? How supportive your school/college towards your sporting career?
Yes, I am good at studies too. I balance it with the help of my teacher and my classmates which makes it easier for me as they know I travel a lot for tournaments and I am very less present in the school. The school helps me a lot and supports me. I’m thankful for all my teachers.
As a player, what was your strength? What are the areas you need to improve on?
My strength is the self-belief and the way I like to mix up; slices, drops and angles. I need to level up my fitness.
Teenage years are probably one of the most difficult times in our lives; we can image a lot of your time was dedicated to training - how did you ensure a good studies-training-social life balance?
It is difficult to maintain tennis plus studies. There is less time for social life. My day starts at 7:00 with the fitness training till 8:00 and then breakfast till 8:30, 9:00 we have tennis till 10:45. Then I changed quickly and be ready for school at 11:10 to 3:30. From 3:45 we got tennis warm-up and later at 4:00, we start a tennis session till 5:30. Then 5:45 we have fitness till 6:15. Last but not the least 6:15 to 7:15 we do a recovery which is the most important part. Next, I take a shower and go for dinner till 8:25. We have an extra class for studies 9:45 or 10:00 sometimes. There my day ends. However, and whenever, I’m on tournaments I try to enjoy with my friends which I love it. Travelling alone giving myself time, thinking, planning!
Would you like to have compete along with Naomi Osaka and what would have been your tactics to beat her?
Yes, she is my favorite. As she is an aggressive baseline player so, I would like to try to play more angles, slices, drops and deep and high balls so that I don’t let her be in her zone.
What is your most memorable tennis moment?
Winning Singles title at ITF JUNIORS G-4 in Chennai. And playing the road to Wimbledon at the All England Club. The feel of the grass courts was just unreal and meeting Andy Murray.
If you could switch lives with another athlete from a different sport, who would you want to be?
I would like to switch my lives with P.V Sindhu as I think I can do great in badminton too. I love how she plays and self-belief. She has done so much for our country that is why I love her so much and she is one of the best athletes in the world.
Many players have routines, habits and superstitions when the travel and play Tennis. Do you have any individual quirky things you do before a game or special items you carry with you in your bag that must go with you everywhere?
Listening to songs and my hand bands which I feel is lucky for me.
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What are your hopes for your tennis career, is there a level you would like to achieve?
I wanted to be in the top 100 in the ITF juniors so I could play all the slams but because of the COVID-19 virus, everything has stopped. I want to crack the top 100 in WTA too. If I keep working hard one day I could play the Olympics which is my dream and to win a medal for our country.
Go-to-shot: Backhand down the line
Federar or Nadal: Federar
Non-tennis players that you admire the most: P.V Sindhu
What’s the one song that always gets stuck in your head:
Arms around you by XXXTentacion and Lil Pump.
What’s something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you don’t get the point of?
Big boss, I don’t really understand how everyone is so obsessed with it. The young ones should not watch it as it is not teaching us something great just arguing on everything to be popular.
Best compliment you have received
My friend Gurveen told me this, “EVERYTHING WOULD BE BETTER IF MORE PEOPLE WERE LIKE YOU!”
This is the sweetest compliment I ever received.