Coach confident about Mahak Jain’s path ahead

Mahak has already won the national women’s title twice and more recently won the National Youth Games gold in an attempt to stay in the radar for possible government support, to pursue her dream.

Photo of Coach Sajid Lodi with his prime trainee, two-time national women's champion Mahak Jain (left) and another trainee.

Photo of Coach Sajid Lodi with his prime trainee, two-time national women's champion Mahak Jain (left) and another trainee.   -  Special Arrangement

Mahak Jain is the best example for a small young player overcoming the limitations and asserting her game in the intensely competitive world of professional tennis.

The 17-year-old Mahak has already won the national women’s title twice and more recently won the National Youth Games gold in an attempt to stay in the radar for possible government support, to pursue her dream.

With coach Sajid Lodi deciding, in consultation with the family, that there was no point in Mahak competing in the international junior circuit, it was important to get better exposure in the ITF women’s circuit.

However, the new format of proposed developmental events, lack of bigger tournaments which compel the top players to compete in smaller events, and the shrinking qualifying draws have dealt a serious blow to the progress of Mahak.

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‘’In the $25,000 events, there are players who are in the to-100 to 150. Mahak is 500 and has to compete with them. Moreover, it has been tough to plan tournaments as there has been so much uncertainty’’, said Lodi.

Mahak, who played a good match, a three-setter against Kim Na Ri of Korea during the Fed Cup in Kazakhstan, has managed to get only four other matches in the professional circuit this season so far, spread over three tournaments.

In a fortnight in Australia recently, Mahak played the qualifying events of two tournaments and managed to win a round. She had lost the first round of another event at home in Jodhpur, where she had a wild card entry.

Mahak had reached the semifinals of a $25,000 event in Navi Mumbai in December last year, but has not been able to pursue a similar growth pattern, owing to paucity of events.

‘’We have planned events for Mahak in Hong Kong and then the US now, for about five to six weeks’’, said Lodi.

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Had she been able to capitalise on the international junior circuit, Mahak could have easily got many more quality matches around the world, to stay match sharp. However, the junior circuit does not figure in the plan of Mahak and family any more.

‘’We are 100 per cent sure that playing the professional women’s circuit is the way forward for Mahak’’, said coach Lodi, emphasising the point that the quicker the girl gets adapted to the high standard of professional circuit, the better for her.

With the qualifying draws improving marginally in terms of the numbers of players accepted, there is a hope that the professional circuit would become more inclusive rather than discourage the players from pursuing the sport.

‘’If the developmental events had been planned as an additional feature to the original circuit, it would have been a great idea’’, said the coach who finds it hard to digest the fact that the authorities governing the game could come up with a format that drove
enthusiastic players away from the game.

At a younger age Mahak had been reaching the finals of the ITF women’s events and had played a few semifinals as well. The changing scenario has made a temporary set back for her, but being a gutsy player, Mahak is bound to fight her way back, and rise from her current rank of 511.