Ankita Raina ready to step it up in professional circuit

Ankita Raina won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in women's tennis singles on Thursday.

Photo of Asian Games medallist Ankita Raina at the DLTA in Delhi on Monday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Ankita Raina has suitably exhausted herself, competing in three events in a week, and shining brightly with a rare singles bronze for Indian women’s tennis, in the Asian Games.

The 25-year-old from Gujarat who trains with coach Hemant Bendrey in Pune fell sick as well,but was not tired of smiling as she greeted one with a box of sweet at the DLTA Complex on Monday.

After flying into Delhi on Sunday night, Ankita was spending time with her mother who had come to receive her in the Capital, and relatives. Unmindful of ill health, Ankita chose to endure the tough Delhi traffic to greet the tennis fraternity.

‘’It is a dream medal for me in singles. Definitely went with the aim to win the gold, but lost a very close match in mixed doubles. The locals were cheering for them, and they played better. I did my best. Gave it all I had. You have to be grateful for what you have achieved’’, said Ankita.

Even though she rated it only as one of her best achievements in tennis, Ankita said that the medal would provide a positive change to her own outlook towards her game.

‘’This medal has given such a high boost to me. I feel that I can go farther than what I had set as my goals. It does not matter who I play or what her ranking’’, said Ankita, with resolve.

It was one hell of a match that Ankita played against the top seed Shuai Zhang, before going down in the second set tie-break in the singles semifinals.

READ: Ankita Raina ‘getting better with every match’ - Bhambri

‘Even before the match, I knew that I will have my chances. I was ready, physically and mentally. As the match progressed, the opponent also started to understand my game better and won with her experience’’, recalled Ankita.

Ankita expressed her appreciation for Rohan Bopanna, both as a
professional and as a person.

‘’It was great playing with Rohan. I learnt a lot from him. He watches all the matches and cheers our players. Our opponents in the mixed quarterfinals were not bad. They had beaten the hot shot Thai team (Nishca Lertpitaksinchai and Sanchai Ratiwatana). Aldila Sutjiadi gave good support to Christopher Rungkat. We had our chances’’, said Ankita.

Except for pouncing on the big overheads in a menacing fashion, Bopanna let Ankita play her game in the mixed matches, which conveyed the faith in her strong game.

‘’I saw guys covering from left to right in many teams’’, recalled Ankita.

Losing to the Kazakhs Gozal Aintdinova and Anna Danilina in women’s doubles in partnership with Prarthana Thombare, was understandably a bit disappointing for Ankita, as the Indian pair was seeded fifth.

‘’I had not seen them play. One of the girls had a good game. She knew what she was doing. In our side, we both made mistakes’’, said Ankita, about the loss in the doubles second round, after a rousing start when they had blanked the Pakistan girls.

It is time to rest, recover and smile big for Ankita, this week, before she embarks on a fresh voyage with renewed confidence to Japan, China and Uzbekistan.