Tennis star Tanvi Bhat passes away in Dubai

The 21-year-old, who was Kerala's brightest talent a few years ago and was forced to quit the sport due to injury, died in a road accident in Dubai last Sunday.

Tanvi Bhat (in pic: with the trophy), who was Kerala's brightest tennis talent a few years ago before injury forced her to quit the sport, died in a road accident in Dubai on Sunda

Tanvi Bhat, who was Kerala's brightest tennis talent a few years ago before injury forced her to quit the sport, died in a road accident in Dubai on Sunday. She was 21 and is survived by her father Dr. Sanjay Bhat, mother Lilan and brother Adithya who was also a former Kerala champion. The last rites were held on Wednesday.

Nine years ago, Tanvi won the under-14 Asian Series girls singles title in Doha. She was just 12 then and around that time, she had quit regular school to focus on her game.

But just when the going appeared good, Tanvi suffered an ACL injury and had to undergo surgery twice, at 14 and 15 and then again at 17 for a spine problem. That forced to give up serious tennis.

RAFAEL NADAL, HER HERO

“Her hero was Rafa (Rafael Nadal),” said her mother Lilan on Wednesday evening as she showed the door to Tanvi's room which was covered with nearly 100 pictures of Nadal.

“She was boisterous, had abundant energy...she used to play tennis for four hours every day and was then at the football ground playing with boys, racing against time, living her life in 21 years.”

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Tanvi did her schooling at Elamakkara's Bhavan's Vidya Mandir and later at the Choice School, was in her third year degree course in psychology and English at Dubai's Heriot-Watt and Middlesex College.

“We had all moved to Dubai and she started playing for her college and went to Abu Dhabi once to play at the university level,” said her mother.

“She was very talented, one of our best players and the only one from Kerala to win an Asian Series title,” said former Kerala men's champion K. Shankar, who along with Mansingh Thapa, coached Tanvi for many years at the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy at Kochi's Regional Sports Centre.

Mansingh revealed that Tanvi was a very special girl who should have gone places with her tennis.

“I've not seen such a talent in my 16 years of coaching. She was very dedicated and her dad was very supportive. She was very disciplined too,” he said. “I was shattered when I heard the news, even now, I'm unable to accept it.”

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