Karman Kaur gears up for pro circuit

After enjoying modest success in the junior circuit that saw her reach a career-best rank of 32 in February this year, 18-year-old Karman Kaur Thandi is ready to plunge into the professional women’s circuit, by storm or calm.

From being ranked 649 at the moment in the women’s circuit, Karman Kaur hopes to end the year at around 400 or 350.   -  AP

In pursuit of your tennis dreams, if you get a glittering junior career, it is great. If it does not happen, it does not matter.

After enjoying modest success in the junior circuit that saw her reach a career-best rank of 32 in February this year, the 18-year-old Karman Kaur Thandi is ready to plunge into the professional women’s circuit, by storm or calm.

The tall and wiry Karman had the best tennis education of her fledgling career when she got to train with some of the best women and junior players during her stint at the Patrick Mouratoglou academy in France.

"They have a very good system. I really like working with the coaches and physios there. Got to train with top-100 women players and very good juniors like Potapova," recalled Karman, back in the capital to get her visas in place for a long training stint in Europe.

Interestingly, Anastasia Potapova of Russia, a bright talent at 15 years, won the Wimbledon junior event after being the semifinalist at the French Open and quarterfinalist at the Australian Open. She is the current world No.1 junior. "There is not much different in our game when we train together," said Karman, as she looked back at her training sessions with the best talent in the world.

Karman talked highly about Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, the world No. 6 junior who was eventually beaten by Potapova in the Wimbledon title round. "I lost to a girl in the French Open second round, who finished runner-up in Wimbledon. I missed my chances, and she hit better shots on the crucial points," she said.

Karman herself lost both Roehampton grade-1 event and Wimbledon to Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia.

Partnering Charlotte Robillard-Milette of Canada, Karman lost a thriller 9-11 in the super tie-break against Olesya Pervushina and Anastasia Potapova of Russia in the second round of doubles in Wimbledon junior event. The Russian duo had made the finals of French Open, Roehampton and semifinals of Wimbledon.

Karman herself had made the doubles quarterfinals of the French Open with Jaimee Fourlis of Australia and the Australian Open quarterfinals with compatriot and former Asian junior champion Pranjala Yadlapalli.

Help from Bhupathi

The only way to polish diamond is with diamond dust.

Multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi understands this very well and has thus planned the best training and competitive exposure to help Karman realise her potential.

"They are happy with her progress. She will play some women’s events now," said Mahesh, who had arranged for Karman’s training base in France with the academy run by the coach of Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou.

Of course, Karman’s mother, who travels with her for all tournaments and training stints, be it in Canada with Bobby Mahal or in Europe, is quite proud about all the nice things that people spontaneously tell her on watching Karman play.

"I almost know all the good juniors and am friends with them. The women’s circuit has a variety of players who have a much superior game because of experience," observed Karman, who had made the semifinals after winning three rounds of qualification in only her second ITF women’s event two years ago, at home in Delhi.

Karman had also won the under-16 title in the WTA Future Stars event held during the prestigious WTA year-end championship in Singapore in 2014. That helped her get an invitation to the Players party in Wimbledon this time and have a wonderful experience in the company of superstars.

From being ranked 649 at the moment in the women’s circuit, Karman hopes to end the year at around 400 or 350. She may start with a $25,000 event in Japan and play some more in Asia, before going back to Patrick Mouratoglou in France. She had won two doubles titles with Dhruthi Venugopal, and thus has been honing her all-round game, which revolves around her big forehand and a strong serve.

"I like the hard courts. I like the clay as well. I enjoyed Wimbledon," observes Karman, quite open and not prejudiced about her favourite surface. "Whether it is hard or clay, you have to get your feet moving," remarks Karman. "I'm training hard and will give 100 per cent in every tournament I play. I am getting better every day," observed Karman, quite confident about her passage towards the big league, with unhurried steps and voice.

More than anything, Karman understands the importance of physical fitness. "Tennis training and physical fitness are equally important. I enjoy both. To get the results, you need the strength, and that comes from fitness," she says.

She is getting used to the hard training and the positive feeling that 'they believe in me'. Karman Kaur Thandi has the support and guidance, not to forget the champion attitude, to reach the big league.

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