From being the champion at the first U-16 Future Stars tournament in Singapore in October 2014, to peaking closer to the top 500 in the WTA, transitioning from the junior to the senior circuit, Karman Kaur Thandi has come a long way in making a name for herself: within the Indian tennis fraternity and slowly – but unmistakably – internationally as well.
Scroll.in spoke to the teenager and got to know about a little about her career goals, short-term and long-term.
The 18-year-old was last seen at the $25,000 ITF event in Pune this week, where she reached the second round before falling in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 to the top seed and world No. 93, Irina Khromacheva of Russia, who advanced to the final. Instead of focusing on her defeat, Thandi looked at the positives, one of which was the player strength the event had attracted. “It’s good to have ITF events like the one in Pune, in India. It was a great effort by the organisers. We saw some good players. For a $25,000 event, the competition was nice,” she said.
She has one more reason to shrug aside her early ouster as she’s heading to Nice, France, where she will begin a three-week training at the newly launched Mouratoglou Academy. Founded by Patrick Mouratoglou, the well-known French coach, who’s been mentoring world No. 2 Serena Williams since 2012, the academy – his second after his first successful endeavour in 1996 – was launched this year with his protégé Williams and Novak Djokovic taking part in its inauguration ceremony. When asked what prompted the decision to shift her training base there, she said, “I started training there this year because Mahesh [Bhupathi] suggested I go there.”
The decision does look promising. As do the returns. She’s been taken under the wing of Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh, who’s previously coached Angelique Kerber and in the few months that she’s been training there, she attained a career-high 540th place in the WTA rankings. Speaking about her experience at the academy, Karman mentioned, “There is a good team of coaches, a pro team of coaches. The facilities are good, the way they train and motivate, it’s good too. They understand me and my game style. It’s a positive atmosphere. I like training there.”
Post her training, Karman will be back home in India, with two back-to-back ITF tournaments lined up for her. First is the $25,000 event in Pune that will be held from December 12-18, followed the $25,000 tourney in Navi Mumbai, to be held from December 19-25.
While there’s more to be seen of Thandi in the ITF circuit, her breakthrough into the WTA is hinged upon a contingency. In order to play the WTA events, she needs to break into the top-500 and at her current ranking of 603, she’s off by over 100 places. The distance and the commitment needed to cross the threshold isn’t a hardship for the girl who considers Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams as her idols. She is targeting a break into the top-350 by March 2017.
Assertively ambitious as she sounded while specifying this, she looked even more determined as she put forth, “The long-term goal is to be the best in the world.” While hope lingers on her statements, watching it turn into actuality necessitates waiting a while longer. It’s however one that’s worth doing so given that it’s the future of Indian women’s tennis that’s at stake.
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