Tennis: India primed for medals

Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan stand a good chance of extending India’s hold on the men’s doubles – India won three straight gold medals between 2002 and 2010, and a silver in 2014. Also, Ramkumar Ramanathan is in good form, reaching his first ATP Tour singles final in July.

Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan stand a good chance of extending India’s hold on the men’s doubles.   -  PTI

India has won eight gold, six silver and fifteen bronze medals in tennis at the Asian Games, the high point being the 2010 Guangzhou edition, where Somdev Devvarman won the men’s singles gold, beating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the final, and the doubles gold with Sanam Singh, while Vishnu Vardhan and Sania Mirza won silver in the mixed doubles. In addition, Mirza took bronze in the women’s singles and the Indian men’s team also won bronze.

Mirza has won the mixed doubles gold twice – in 2006 at Doha with Leander Paes and at the last Games in Incheon with Saketh Myneni. In fact, the 2014 outing was a very successful one for India, too, with Yuki Bhambri winning bronze in the men’s singles, in addition to the country, silver as well as bronze in the men’s doubles, another bronze in the women’s doubles and gold in the mixed doubles.

But the Indian contingent this year is missing many medallists from the last two Asian Games – Mirza, Bhambri, Myneni, Devvarman, Sanam Singh. Bhambri is sitting out the Games as he stands a fair chance of playing in the main draw at the US Open later this year.

Nonetheless, it is still a strong squad. Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan stand a good chance of extending India’s hold on the men’s doubles – India won three straight gold medals between 2002 and 2010, and a silver in 2014. Prajnesh Gunneswaran has a good record against Asian players, and Ramkumar Ramanathan reached his first ATP Tour final in Newport in July. Bopanna and Divij Sharan should stand a good chance to extend India’s hold over the men’s doubles. Paes will be contesting the men’s doubles with Sumit Nagpal as well as the mixed doubles with Ankita Raina, India’s top ranked female player.

The women’s team, however, will severely miss the services of Mirza, who has taken time off from tennis as she’s expecting her first child. Raina, who became only the third Indian to break into the top 200 in the world in April, will lead the team in the absence of the three-time doubles and three-time mixed doubles Grand Slam winner.

 

Teams:

Men: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Leander Paes*

Women: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare

 

*Leander Peas has withdrawn from the Asian Games. [Report]

 

SOFT TENNIS

What is soft tennis: The rules of soft tennis are similar to those of tennis. The difference between the two sports, which are played on court of identical size, lies in the balls and racquets that are used – the ones for soft tennis are much lighter.

India has only competed once – at the 2010 Guangzhou Games – in soft tennis, a sport that has been dominated by South Korea since it was introduced at the 1994 Games in Hiroshima. The East Asian country has won 50 medals, including 23 gold, in six editions. Chinese Taipei and Japan have had a fair degree of success, winning 30 and 28 medals, respectively. In 2014, the Union sports ministry did not clear a team that featured Archana Venkataraman, a former national doubles champion in tennis, to participate in Incheon.