Many athletes think about life after sports after 35. But for Davis Cupper Saketh Myneni, the journey in search of excellence at the highest level goes on.
The gifted tennis player, who achieved a career-best doubles ranking of No. 74 this year, proved a point or two by winning the men’s doubles silver (partnering Ramkumar Ramanathan) in the recent Asian Games.
“Winning my third medal in the Asiad is a truly fabulous feeling for me. It only reminds you that you have much more to give to a sport which is a sheer passion for me. I just can’t think of staying away from it,” he tells Sportstar in a chat.
“Definitely, the Asiad silver is a great morale booster as I chase the dream of representing India at the 2024 Paris Olympics. I am conscious of the challenges ahead, the biggest being to be very consistent in the ATP circuit to keep improving my rankings. Yes, it’s never going to be easy for sure,” Saketh explained, “I owe a lot to my wife who has been letting me enjoy my passion (tennis). She has been, like other family members, a great support to me.”
“By all means, winning a medal for your country in a Continental Games which comes every four years does reflect a lot, especially about where you stand. I am really glad to have pulled off this silver and thank my teammate Ramkumar for making it truly memorable,” he said.
“It has been really tough for me to manage, especially the finances as I couldn’t find any sponsors. I started by investing the money I earned as a coach before turning Pro. From then on, I have been reinvesting everything I earn on tour back into tennis to fund my participation in tournaments, as we pay from our pockets for travel accommodation, nutrition coaching and training.”
He added that there has been no funding or help from the governments or national sports federations even after the 2014 medals in the Asian Games.
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“Tennis players in India need a system to support them from a young age to achieve the dream of winning Olympic medals and making singles Grand Slam champions,” he said.
“We all know it is a very tough circuit out there and the biggest target is to play as many ATP tour events and Grand Slams as possible, put up a good show and keep improving my ranking.”
What keeps you going?
“I repeat, it is my passion … I lost a lot of valuable time because of the pandemic. Trying my best to make up in a big way. It is demanding to travel 30 to 40 weeks every year. I had to respect my body and stop playing singles. The focus is now more on doubles,” Saketh said.
“I sincerely believe I can still do well for some more time and will give up only when my body doesn’t respond to the challenges of playing in the circuit.”
On the Tennis Premier League, Saketh felt it was a perfect platform for the young talent, especially the kind of promotional events they were planning.
“These things ensure the desired exposure and we hope to see many more young champions,” he concluded.