Teenager Dev Javia focused on pro circuit

Dev Javia, currently ranked No.54 in the world junior rankings has chosen to pursue his tennis along with his education in the United States.

Dev is being guided by Somdev Devvarman, who also studied in the US.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

The biggest temptation for any good junior tennis player in the country is to get admission in one of the American Universities and ensure a secure career.

It is a different matter that very few players like Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Sanam Singh or Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan have been able to return from the good life in the United States to excel in the professional circuit.

When Somdev opted to study in the US and pursue his tennis along with it, after having won the men’s ITF Futures title on clay when he was a 17-year-old, many felt that he was being drawn by the urge of a secure career.

Somdev proved his hunger for tennis by winning back to back NCAA singles titles, beating no less than the towering John Isner in one final, without having his serve being broken. Somdev returned to the professional circuit, winning a bunch of titles including the Lexington Challenger in 2008. For him, the time was well invested in the US.

However, no Indian player from the American Universities has had such success as Somdev, who won the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medals, apart from reaching a career best ranking of 62. Bhupathi, who won many Grand Slams doubles titles, and Davis Cup singles ties, had discontinued college in the States, to turn professional.

In such a scenario, it is a big surprise that the 17-year-old Dev Javia, ranked No.54 in the world junior rankings on Monday, has steadfastly countered the recommendation of his parents, to pursue his tennis along with his education in the US.

The good thing is that Somdev himself is in touch with the talented left-hander and his parents to ensure the best possible guidance, at this crucial juncture of the youngster's career.

"Dev did work in the camp with us. He did well. If he takes the right steps, he could be really good", observed Somdev, who had recently conducted a training camp in Chennai.

He may not have a big build, and may even look frail, but Dev is a delight to watch on a tennis court. He can construct the points well and be explosive with his serve and strokes when required.

Groomed from a young age by coach Shrimal Bhatt in Ahmedabad, Dev has
been compelled to float around in search of quality guidance in recent times, owing to situation beyond his control. He has found a dependable guide in coach Stephen Koon at the Impact Tennis Academy in Thailand.

"I have put in the hours, as I got good time to work on my fitness as well as my game. We have two weeks before the grade-1 tournament in Australia, followed by the Australian Open. I should be ready by that time, and hopefully perform well", said Dev, when contacted at his training base in Bangkok.

Yuki Bhambri, who was world No.1 junior, before he cracked the top-100 in men’s and Sumit Nagal who was No.23 in juniors before he won the Wimbledon junior doubles title in 2005, and ranked 127 among men, come
readily to mind, as the best examples of players who have stayed glued to the game, avoiding the safe path of education in the US.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran who has been hampered by injuries and lost about five years, but stuck on to reach a career best rank of 75 among men had only a rank of 148 as his best among the juniors.

Dev is pretty clear in his mind that he would compete in the juniors to get the Grand Slam experience, but also start competing among the men from this year to form a strong base.

"I have some goals to achieve in men’s circuit this year. But, I am looking to develop myself, doing the right things, surrounded by right people. This year is crucial for me. So, I have to stay fit and improve my game, to compete at higher levels", remarked Dev.

Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without taking the risk. It is remarkable that Dev, at a young age has such clarity of thought, about the path ahead. He is so sure about the chosen path, that it does not look risky for him.

Watch out for Dev Javia!

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