There have been a few turning points in my life but the biggest one was when I got a tennis scholarship to the University of Virginia (UVA), Charlottesville, US. I was 18 then and had big tennis dreams but was wondering how to pursue my aspirations.
Thats when my good friend and former Indian Davis Cup player, Vishaal Uppal and my coach, Happy Bhalla, encouraged me to go to the US for intensive tennis coaching. Bhalla actually got the UVA tennis coach, Brian Boland, to induct me into his programme. I was thrilled. This move helped me prepare for the rigours of the pro-circuit.
Once I made the decision to join UVA, I got my priorities right and started working towards my dreams with single-minded devotion. I had to make sacrifices and couldnt live the life of a regular 18-year-old. For instance, when my friends partied over weekends or went on holidays, I practiced hard. Now, in hindsight, I am happy having made those sacrifices. I found that I was better prepared for tennis — and life — after college.
That phase of my life also moulded me to become the person — and the player — that I am today and helped me stay focused. I appreciate and value life and people a lot more now. I have become more responsible and independent. I always try and keep things in perspective.
Now, my plan is to keep working hard and to improve my tennis and to make it to the world top 100 rankings by the end of this year.
(As told to Hoihnu Hauzel)