Humera Shaik takes a step back, hoping to leap

Humera Shaik won the junior girls title on Saturday, as a qualifier.

In the fast moving world, it is always a rush forward. Few manage to stop, take a calculated step backward, possibly to uncork a strong leap.

From the land of the Nizams, Hyderabad, more famous for tennis champion Sania Mirza, and Uzma Khan before her, the tall and strong Humera Shaik aspires to make a big impact in the world of women’s tennis.

Despite being seeded No.5 in the women’s event for the National championship, the 17-year-old Humera opted to compete in the under-18 event, possibly to draw attention as the national junior champion and get suitable support to power her tennis career.

"It was a last minute decision, and I had to come from the airport straight to play the qualifying event, as we got a wild card entry for it," recalled Humera, who won the junior girls title on Saturday, as a qualifier.

Even though she swiftly beat Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty, who had beaten her in the ITF circuit, in straight sets, it was a hard week of toil for Humera, as she had to negotiate three events every day.

In the end, Humera lost the women’s quarterfinals to four-time national champion Prerna Bhambri. She finished runner-up in women’s doubles with left-hander Sara Yadav, to Mahak Jain and Sathwika Sama.

In the juniors, it was a tough start as Humera had to play a tie-break to beat Lakshanya Viswanath 9-8(5) in the second qualifying round after a bye in the first. She settled to qualify comfortably.

In the main draw, eighth seed Humera was pushed to her limits by the free-stroking Muskan Gupta and pulled through in three sets in the pre-quarterfinals.

"I have been playing only the women’s tournaments in India. I have won 11 titles. I need to compete internationally and need the financial support.’’ — Humera Shaik.

 

Otherwise, Humera dropped only 15 games in winning the other four rounds in a draw of 64, after a bye.

"I have stopped playing the juniors. In the Adidas National juniors, I was runner-up to Sharannya Gaware. So, we thought why not try to win the title here," said Humera, who had won the singles and doubles titles in the ITF grade-4 junior event in Chennai in August last year. She played only one more ITF junior event thereafter.

"I have been playing only the women’s tournaments in India. I have won 11 titles. I need to compete internationally and need the financial support,’’ said Humera who is diligently guided by her father Mohammed Bin Yousuf.

Humera has been part of the Indian Junior Fed Cup team and aspires to make the women’s team.

When pointed about the diminutive Mahak winning the national women’s title for the second time, Humera has only admiration for her.

"She may be small, but her heart is big. Her consistency is very high and she does not give any free points,’’ said Humera about Mahak’s ability to win matches.

In her own game, Humera aims to improve her consistency and asserts that she has the confidence to achieve it.

Humera adores Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. She has developed a liking for the 20-year-old US Open champion Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Free from the ills of a mobile phone and the distractions of the social media, Humera reveals that she does have an Instagram account!

Humera gets racquets from Head. If she gets the coaching support and financial aid to travel for tournaments, at least in Asia to start with, Humera can realise her immense potential, as she stands out with her big game and a great attitude.