Indian team raring to go at Deaf World Championship

Prithvi Sekhar and Jafreen Shaik will lead India's charge at the Deaf World Championship to be held in Antalya, Turkey, from September 22 to 29.

Jafreen Shaik and Prithvi Sekhar train under the watchful eyes of coach Chandra Bhushan.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Prithvi Sekhar stood out with his powerful game while the rest tried to keep pace with him on the fast courts of the Delhi's Nehru Stadium, as the Indian tennis team prepared for the Deaf World Championship to be held in Antalya, Turkey, from September 22 to 29.

The women’s team has been weakened by Parul Gupta's absence after she suffered a leg injury, leaving the task to run a successful campaign on the strong shoulders of Jafreen Shaik.

The men’s team will be led by 25-year-old Prithvi − who has been competing in the men’s professional circuit with considerable success, even at the international level.

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Coach Chandra Bhushan, who guided Prithvi and Jafreen to the Deaflympics bronze, kept everyone occupied with drills. He also worked on specific points to sharpen each of their games.

"These courts are too fast. All courts internationally are slow. The balls are the same as they would use in the World Championship. It is important to play on a slow court, otherwise it may take time to adjust," said Prithvi.

He recalled the long camp before the Deaflympics, and said that it made sense for him to be playing tournaments rather than train continuously for about six weeks. "This time I am match sharp," added Prithvi.

He kept ripping the forehand on Monday, in his unique style, but conceded that the backhand down the line was his favourite shot from childhood.

Since it will be a team competition, it will be left to see how much support Prithvi gets from his mates to take the team forward in the format which features two singles and a doubles in the team championship, separately for men and women.

There will be individual events as well, but no mixed doubles for the Indian pair to aim for a repeat of the Deaflympics or better that medal.

"We are getting a woman manager to take care of the team when we travel for the championship," said coach Bhushan, after a rigorous work-out.

"We can’t do intense training now. We have to pace them nicely to help the players be at their energetic best through the tournament," he added.

The team:

Men: Prithvi Sekhar, DH Prasanth, Dhananjay Dubey, Sai Chandan, Joshua
Andrew Anburaj.
Women: Jafreen Shaik, Bhavani Kedia, Kirti Lata.
Coach: Chandra Bhushan Prasad.