Pratt Memorial School, Kolkata
Whether it is nationally or internationally, tennis is viewed primarily as a men’s sport, feels Aleena Farid. Aleena is a 12-year-old Tennis player who is currently ranked Bengal no. 1 and India no. 39. In spite of all the hard work she has put into the game, she still feels she has something to prove to the world – so that people sit up and take note of the fact that women tennis players put in just as much of an effort and deserve just as much respect as the men. Aleena’s first introduction to tennis came through watching her father coach other children at his academy in Kolkata. Her father too wanted to pursue tennis professionally but wasn’t able to. However, when he saw Aleena’s interest in the sport, he took her under his wing, and today he is both her coach as well as a doubles partner. While Aleena comes through like a quiet child, she is a force to reckon with on the court. Currently, she has two more years left in the under 14 category, and she is all poised to make the most of them. Her daily routine involves more than three hours of rigorous tennis practice on the court and another hour and a half of physical fitness training. The determination and seriousness may seem incongruous in one so young, but interacting with her for any amount of time makes it very clear that she has one single-minded goal in her life – and that is to be world no. 1 in tennis. Her rigorous routine leaves little time for her to attend school as the other kids do. However, with the full support of her teachers and her school, she is firmly focused on making her tennis dream a reality.