At 14, Anushka Burman is set to be one of the youngest players to be playing in the women’s tennis nationals at Raipur this June. But this is nothing compared to the challenges she has faced over the years. When her father Arindam died after a severe bout of dengue less than two years ago Anushka was playing the BTA ranking meet at the Bengal Tennis Association Complex in Kolkata. She showed up the next day, won the match and made it to the last four of the tournament.
Currently No.3 in Bengal, Burman has been a constant feature in the state circuit for more than two years now. Coached by Sanjay Poddar, Anushka also has a nutritionist, a counseling psychologist, a fitness trainer and a yoga instructor. “My day starts at 6 in the morning and continues till late evening. I attend practice in the morning and evening and in between I have a separate fitness regimen and a psychology class,” said Anushka. The psychology class, Anushka’s mother Archana informs, has been a regular fixture ever since she lost his father on September 23, 2013.
A class 10 student of Indira Gandhi Girls’ School, Anushka has been spared the pangs of attending daily classes. “My school has allowed me to skip classes and write the exams only,” said Anushka.
Her plans are also sorted out. Having broken into the women’s circuit at 14, Anushka, currently No.128 in the AITA women’s rankings, aims to do well in the next two years to make it to the top tier.
But it’s getting difficult for her family to continue funding Anushka’s tennis dreams. Buoyed by only a racquet sponsor, Anushka has only her immediate family to fall back on. “My husband was in a partnership business but we got nothing after he died. It’s getting tough every passing day,” said Archana who has left her job to travel with her daughter.
A fan of Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal, the 14-year-old however is determined not to be deterred by the hurdles. “It has been difficult for me but I want to play good tennis, represent India and play the Wimbledon. That is my dream,” she said.