Billie Jean King Cup: Riya Bhatia eager to play her part well on clay

The 24-year-old from Delhi, ranked third best among the Indians behind Ankita Raina and Karman Thandi, is confident of playing her role on clay, in the Asia-Oceania Billie Jean King Cup women’s tennis event.

All Riya’s tournament wins, three in singles including one $25,000 event, and three doubles titles have come abroad.   -  FILE PHOTO

Riya Bhatia does not hit the headlines often, but has been diligently working on her game, by competing around the world.

The 24-year-old from Delhi, ranked third best among the Indians behind Ankita Raina and Karman Thandi, is confident of playing her role on clay, in the Asia-Oceania Billie Jean King Cup women’s tennis event, in Antalya, Turkey, in April.

‘’I am confident of performing well, as I have been competing and training on the European clay since I was 13. I have some of my best performances on clay. I also did four weeks of pre-season training this January on clay’’, said Riya, happy to be back in the team.

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Last year, around the same time, Riya could not make the team, despite having her career-best rank of 338.

‘’It is always a pleasure to represent the country. No matter how many tournaments we play all year, it is a matter of pride to represent the country in team competition. It was a surprise to see my name in the reserves last year, when I was No.2 in the country’’, said Riya.

After digesting the disappointment, Riya, competed across the world in Dominican Republic, Mexico, Korea, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia and UAE to improve her game.

‘’I was winning against higher ranked Russians. I was a set and double break up against Laura Siegemund, ranked 55 at that time, in a WTA event. Recently, I was a break up in both the sets against Sachia Vickery of America, who had a career-best rank of 73’’, recalled Riya, quite proud about having competed in $25,000, $60,000, $80,000, $125,000 and $235,238 events on different surfaces.

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She had played Laura in Bad Homburg Open on grass when the German prevailed 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-1.

‘’My game has improved and I am becoming an all-court player, as I have been playing on clay, grass, hard court, and indoor hard courts. I was competing in bigger tournaments, and hope to get good results this season with all the experience’’, said Riya.

All Riya’s tournament wins, three in singles including one $25,000 event, and three doubles titles have come abroad.

‘’I have played more tournaments overseas as I have been training most of the time in Europe’’, said Riya, trying to find a reason for her better success abroad.

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With her doting parents providing her all resources, Riya has beenworking on her game with every ounce of focus she can muster. She is employed with Indian Oil, and grateful to the organisation for the support.

‘’I thank the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for being an important part of my career’’, she said.

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