Few spectacles are more engaging in any sport than the flowering and unearthing of young talent. And there are even fewer who can win both hearts and titles by beating the odds and repose the faith the others showed in him. Sabrang Sandal falls in the second category. He has captured the hearts and imagination of his coaches and peers to such an extent that there is a little chance he will fade out from view any sooner.
Stringing a series of strong performances, Sabrang has racked up almost half a dozen titles in the first half of this year alone. He won four All India Tennis Association (AITA) titles at Karnal, which emerged as his favourite hunting ground in recent times.
High on confidence and with plenty of titles in his kitty, the 15-year-old stepped out of the shadows and took the centre stage. Soon he found himself on the plane to Madrid for a two-week long exposure-cum-training trip along with his three other team-mates from Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA).
Sabrang reveled in the joy of his new-found glory by clicking pictures of his maiden sojourn to Madrid and shared it with his friends on social networking sites.
“Last year I had gone to Japan for the ‘Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths Programme’ but I did not play any competitive match there. I was thrilled and overjoyed when I was chosen for the exposure-cum-training trip to Madrid. I wanted to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime experience and return a stronger and better player. Playing on clay courts were very enjoyable,” shared Sabrang, who registered 10 wins and three losses on the tour to Madrid.
For someone who showed flashes of brilliance when he started out but slowly disappeared into the background, Sabrang surely has come a long way. The sense of balance, vision, strength and confidence was missing until two years ago. Despite doing well in local tournaments, AITA titles were missing from Sabrang’s cabinet.
But that changed in 2013 when he picked up almost half a dozen titles AITA titles. The success which had eluded him was now within his reach. All of a sudden Sabrang was engulfed by euphoria and he also experienced adrenaline rush.
“I was winning local tournaments but somehow a big title eluded me. 2013 was the breakthrough year for me as I started winning AITA titles and my confidence grew manifold. I haven’t looked back since then,” shared the player who is placed 35th in AITA boy’s under-16 rankings.
It was a sudden and serendipitous initiation to tennis for Sabrang. While his father, Madan Lal, an artist, would try to capture his imagination on the canvas, Sabrang made effort to hit the ball out of the park.
Till the age of eight, his world revolved around his family and cricket. His life took a U-turn when he saw one of his friends making the sweetest music with his racket at a tennis court. Sabrang knew instantly that he wanted to dabble in the sport.
His tryst with tennis began at Lake Club where he stayed till 2009. From there, he shifted to CLTA, where he continues to train and flourish. “I was always into sports and from the very beginning I knew I wanted to become a player. I was never inclined towards art and my father encouraged me to go after my dreams. However, I get nervous when I see my father watching me play, so I ask him not to come to see my matches,” laughed Sabrang, who is currently taking part in the CLTA-AITA National Ranking Championship for men’s and women’s Rs 1 lakh tennis tournament in Chandigarh.
Sabrang, a student of Class 10 of Delhi Public School, Sector 10, is now looking forward to stamp his class in ITF junior tournaments. He is also eyeing a good show at the Fenesta Nationals.
“I am looking to improve my rankings also. However, my main aim is to play in ITF junior tournament. Hopefully, it will happen this year,” signed off the player.