“There is nothing interesting about my life. Its just tennis, tennis, and more tennis,” says Sai Kartik Nakireddi, a 17-year-old from Vizag, who is the top seeded Indian in singles at the Asian Junior Tennis Championships. The statement encompasses all that is interesting about the youngster. Even in a brief chat, it is not hard to tell that the sport is his life.
Kartik is in Class XII, and his board exams, which he will be giving through open school, are a couple of weeks away. Yet, his first and only priority is getting as far as he can in the championships. What about college? “I haven’t even given college a thought. My only aim is to turn professional, and play tennis as far as I can,” says the quiet boy.
He also shares the lonely side to tennis. Kartik has been living in Delhi for the last two-and-a-half years, training under Aditya Sachdev. His father used to travel with him, but because of lack of sponsors and the expenses involved, he, like many fellow players on the ITF circuit, has to travel alone.
The concept of school friends is alien, and asked if he has special someone in his life, the reply is cut and dry, “Girlfriends are a distraction. There will be plenty of time for that after tennis.”
If his maturity is in proportion with the talent, Kartik seems set to go a very long distance.
Sankara lone Indian girl in fray
Seventh seed Rishika Sunkara kept India’s challenge in the girl’s singles alive and kicking by entering the quarterfinals on Thursday. She beat 11th seed Chinese, Zhaoxuan Yang, 6-2, 7-5.
The boys’ section was harder fought and the Indian contingent saw better results. Of the 10 Indians in the last 16, five made it through to the next round. Sai Kartik Nakireddi (4) easily went past Chi-Shan Jao (Taipei) 7-6 (4) , 6-1, while the unseeded Mansingh Athare continued his fine run with a hard fought, three-set win over third seed Xin Gao of China, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.