Sasi Kumar Mukund ready to take the next big step

Even though Mukund is only 20 years old, he has the mental maturity to put things in perspective, which may in turn help him scale greater heights.

Despite the clear targets for the next season, Mukund opts to keep an open mind, not worrying about the rankings or making teams.   -  S. Siva Saravanan

It has been a fruitful fortnight for Sasi Kumar Mukund, who won the ITF Futures singles titles in Chennai and Coimbatore.

At a time when he is ready to break into the top-500 in the rankings, Mukund has given himself some time for a hard look at his tennis career.

"I am happy with my game. These titles are the stepping stones to go higher. I don’t think there is anything to feel very proud," said Mukund, when contacted by Sportstar.

Even though he breathes tennis and is only 20 years old, Mukund, who won the Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal in Samoa two years ago, has the mental maturity to put things in perspective, which may in turn help him scale the heights.

Three titles this season at a time when the Davis Cup team and Asian Indoor teams were saturated, gives Mukund the hope to keep the next Davis Cup in March apart from the Asian Games later, in the radar.

"The two months that I took to train in Spain, especially with trainer Javier Capitaine, have been the key to my strong game. Now, I have the confidence to compete in the Challengers. I just need more matches at the higher level.

I am grateful to Prajnesh and Manu Bajpai for convincing me to go there. Even Vijay Sundar Prashanth has also been guiding me in tournaments," said Mukund, quite grateful to fellow players Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Prashanth, who are part of the national teams.

Despite the clear targets for the next season, Mukund opts to keep an open mind, not worrying about the rankings or making teams.

"I have been running behind ranking last couple of years, and it has not worked. It is best to keep focusing on your game and fitness, the rest will be automatic, whether it is a good rank or making the national team. That is what Saketh Myneni and Prajnesh Gunneswaran
have proved. I have learnt these two weeks to just stay focused on the game, when Navaneetha Kannan and Mithun Murali helped me," said Mukund.

The national championship in Delhi could be a realistic target for Mukund to gain some identity in the country, but his team has been wondering about skipping three weeks of international circuit, after successive Futures titles.

Thanks to quality guidance from well meaning players, Mukund may soon get into the Oil sector like Rohan Bopanna, Saketh Myneni, Divij Sharan, Prashanth etc. Mukund wants to follow them into the Challenger circuit.

"Right now, I can play six out of 10 points at a good level. I need to play eight or nine points out of ten like that to make an impact at the Challenger level," said Mukund, quite analytical with his shrewd mind.

If he plays the National championship in October, Mukund would be expected to win it to consolidate the gains of recent weeks. Despite convinced about the idea of competing in national championships, Mukund is not sure whether it would be worth the pressure.

"There are Challengers in China, Vietnam and Australia. We will take a call soon," he said.

He has been trained by many coaches and has been regularly guided by Aditya Sachdeva, but Mukund recalls the efforts of C. V. Nagaraj in Hyderabad from an young age. He has spent about ten of his formative years in Hyderbad after starting in Kolkata and Chennai.

Having been trained on European clay regularly in the last few years, Mukund is ready to get into the next gear. He follows tennis all the time, and even when he played the Futures final in Chennai, he watched Yuki Bhambri’s Davis Cup match, on television early in the morning, against Canada, before going to the court.

For Mukund, tennis is everything. The undivided attention to the game is sure to bring him rich dividends.

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