Ankita Raina focused on improving serve accuracy

Kedar Shah, who has teamed up with Ankita’s long-time coach, Hemant Bendrey, is helping her towards tuning her doubles game, with the Asiad as the target.

With the Asian Games around the corner, Ankita has decided to focus on "improving her serve accuracy".   -  Special Arrangement

It was a special moment for Ankita Raina, but instead of nostalgia, she was hit by nausea after her triumph.

When she won her first singles title on foreign soil in the $25,000 ITF women’s tournament in Thailand on Saturday, Ankita was throwing up and could not go to the net to shake hands with her opponent.

The 25-year-old has won 20 titles in the professional circuit, including seven in singles. It took her four years to clinch a singles title but playing in the qualifying rounds of the French Open and Wimbledon has speeded up her progress.

It was no surprise then, that Ankita was able to quickly win her second singles title of the season in Nonthaburi, after the one in Gwalior.

She has developed a better understanding of the game and improved notably with her athleticism and ability to fight it out.

"It was very hot and humid. By the end of the last point, I threw up after the last shot I hit. I had barely finished the point and immediately I threw up on the court and sat down. Then, I had to rush to the side’’, recalled Ankita, who had pushed her physical limits, winning three of the five singles matches in three sets each.

Quite pleased to have finished the final in straight sets, Ankita said that she had worked a lot on her game with coach Kedar Shah during the week.

"Against a player who was in the top-100, and had variations, I could play aggressive and solid tennis. I was in my zone’’,  Ankita said about her 6-2, 6-3 triumph against Risa Ozaki of Japan.

Ranked a career-best 181 recently, Ankita bounced back from a precarious position in the second qualifying round of Wimbledon.

Even though she lost in three sets, Ankita felt that the match against Vitalia Diatchenko of Belarus had "given the confidence and belief" that she belonged to that level.

With the Asian Games around the corner, Ankita has decided to focus on "improving her serve accuracy".

Ankita will play a tournament in Thailand before travelling to China for another event. Kedar Shah, who has teamed up with Ankita’s long-time coach, Hemant Bendrey, is also helping her towards tuning her doubles game, with the Asiad as the target.

"After the final, we were working on my returns and volley," pointed out Ankita.

Since the Sports Authority of Gujarat helps her in meeting expenses on the professional tour, Ankita has sought to utilise the financial aid from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), for covering coaching expenses.