City girl Parminder Kaur has got a full athletics scholarship for tennis at Saint Mary's College of California, US. The 18-year-old was a student of St Stephen's School, Sector 45, and later trained at Chandigarh Club and the Lake Sports Complex.
Winner of four singles and seven doubles International Tennis Federation (ITF) titles, she followed in the footsteps of city lad and Davis Cupper Sanam Singh and India's top-ranked pro Somdev Devvarman into the US collegiate tennis circuit.
Parminder had got scholarship offers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; National University of Singapore; and also the University of Texas, US.
"The US has a well-organised tennis circuit which will help me improve my game. The facilities here (at the college in California) are excellent, and so are the coaches. I want to thank head coach Lisa Alipaz for showing faith in me," Parminder said over the phone from the US, where she joined the university last month.
"The scholarship at Saint Mary's is worth around $56,000 (over `34 lakh) per year, and covers her tuition, loading, board, books, health insurance and all tennis-related equipment and expenses during the school year. It will be renewed after four years. I am proud of her. She has the ability and the talent, and now the opportunity, to make an impact in the game," Parminder's father Manjit Singh said.
After her formative years in Chandigarh, Parminder had trained under renowned coach Michael Baroch at the Melbourne International Tennis School (MITS) in Singapore. Baroch has coached former world no 1 and Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon finalist Mark Phillippoussis, and has also worked with former world no 1 Ivan Lendl and Australian Davis Cup captain Tony Roche.
"It has been a lot of hard work on my part, my family and my coaches. My parents have sacrificed a lot, and my coaches, especially Chhedi Lal sir and coach Baroch, pushed me to get better. St Stephen's School was also always helpful," Parminder said.
"The US collegiate circuit provides a good blend of exposure to quality training and competitions. Academically, too, the college has a good track record. I am all geared up to make an impact," said Parminder, who is enrolled in an undergraduate course in business administration there.
In the under-14 and -16 age groups, Parminder was ranked in the top five in the All India Tennis Association (AITA) rankings, while she was ranked 210 in the ITF juniors.