Coronavirus: Mixed bag for Indian students abroad

Some of the Indian players were lucky to beat the coronavirus lockdown and return home, while some players are forced to staying back in the US.

Siddhant Banthia having wall practice at home in Pune.   -  Special Arrangement

Tennis scholarship to the US is virtually a ticket to an exciting career, one way or the other. A few like Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Saketh Myneni return as better tennis players, but many are lost to the good life.

In the current global crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the young players and their parents endure unusual anxious times.

Some of the Indian players were lucky to beat the lockdown and return home, while some like the former National junior champion Sacchitt Sharma are staying back in the US.

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"I injured my ankle badly two months ago. So, I stayed back in the US. The situation is getting worse here, but it is alright near my University", said Sacchitt, who is studying in the University of San Diego, California.

"Ankle is better now. I have started to run. I am in an apartment and doing everything on my own. Pretty happy with both education and tennis. If you are playing for a top University, the competition is super tough. We get groceries every week. I am able to cook and have everything", said Sacchitt.

Sahaja Yamalapalli, the third year student of the Sam Houston State University, who was the Southland Conference Player of the Year in 2019, returned home on March 19.

"Sahaja is doing fitness at home. We suspected the situation in the US and made a sudden plan for her travel. By God’s grace she reached safely", said Sahaja’s father, Bhawani Kumar.

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Siddhant Banthia, who has progressed remarkably, after having shown the initial sparks in winning the singles and doubles titles in the UK under-14 championship in Wimbledon, has returned home.

"I am spending time with family and building new hobbies like reading and painting. We have online classes in the evening from 7.30 to 10.30. I try to work out an hour daily, and follow the programme given to us by our fitness coach at the Wake Forest University’’, said Siddhant, who attempts to have wall practice at home, to retain ‘’the hand eye coordination".

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It is literally a mixed bag for Vasudha Bhan, the mother of another talented tennis player Akanksha Bhan. While Akanksha, who studies in Columbia University, returned home on March 14, her elder sister Divya
continues with her education in Wales.

"Akanksha was supposed to come in May after her semester. But due to the crisis, her college was closed, and classes are going online", said Akanksha’s mom.

Two-time National women’s champion Mahak Jain is scheduled to join Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in August.

"It all depends. Waiting for the situation to improve", said Mahak’s father, Vijay Jain. 

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