Not many tennis hopefuls can boast of full financial backing and an 11-time Grand Slam winner as mentor. “I’m lucky,” says Sumit Nagal.
The 14-year-old, with Mahesh Bhupathi cheering him on from the stands, Nagal reached the semifinals of the Asian Closed Junior Tennis Championships at the DLTA complex. It took him over two hours to beat sixth-seeded Thai Krittin Koaykul 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
The interesting aspect of Nagal’s game is his willingness to come to the net. “Not only does it hustle the opponent, but also gives me more time,” he said confidently. What he now needs is time to hone his game and cut down on unforced errors.
Nagal shifted base to Toronto in September 2010 and now trains with Bobby Mahal and has Denise Lindsey, a former Olympic swimmer, as physical fitness trainer in Canada. Nagal, who receives a 100 per cent scholarship from Bhupathi, has also started to work with physiotherapist, Shyamal Vallabjee. “The mental aspect is very important and I’ve been working hard on it,” adds Nagal.
Ranked 182, his current goal is to make the Junior US Open qualifiers this year and main draws of all the junior Slams next season. Later this month, he will play the Junior Davis Cup.