World of India!: Get Sporty: Sania Mirza- India's tennis sensation is floundering against expectations? e

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Get Sporty: Sania Mirza- India's tennis sensation is floundering against expectations?

Nobody needs to tell anybody, in India, how popular Sania Mirza has become. Since the time she shot on the international tennis circuit, she has become almost a household name in India. As her ATP rankings shot up (she jumped from No 206 to 31 in the world rankings, last year) her popularity shot up too(a google search on 'Sania Mirza' threw no fewer than 1,060,000 results and many a fan club site).

But those heady days seem to be petering out.Sania has found the going tough lately, and breaking into the top 15-20 ranks seems to be a distant dream, given her current run. She has crashed out of almost all the tournaments that she's played, in '06, in the first or second round and not won a single tourney.

So would Sania join the ranks of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi as another 'also ran' on the singles circuit?

While that is not a impossibility, the fact is that Sania has one most important friend on her side- 'Time'. At just 20, she's has at least 10 years of tennis left in her, barring the ever present danger of injury related time/crash outs. This means that Sania has the luxury of time, to correct the flaws in her game. On the other hand, many pros believe, that that in itself, does not mean that Sania can keep improving forever. Every player has a peak beyond which it is difficult to move on- a plateau of aptitude (physical and mental) and attitude, which makes it difficult to move past an unseen barrier. There are some though, like Mahesh bhupathi, who believe that this stage is still a far beyond for Sania, and she stands a sporting chance of breaking in to the top 15 ATP rankings.

Sania's think tank has already made the important decision of hiring Tony Roche (who coaches none other than Tennis's all time great-Roger Federer). Roche's services don't come cheap, but many believe that Roche can help Sania overcome her Achilles heel- her serve (particularly her second serve). To be sure Sania already seems to have made some progress in that direction. Her traveling coach John Farrington, has also helped her improve her other weak point- her back hand.

Sports watchers though, are more worried about Sania's penchant to get into unnecessary controversies, which many believe, have needlessly diverted her attention and concentration. International tennis circuits are notoriously tough on players nerves and many players and their families do everything to ensure, that the player thinks about nothing other than the game itself. Many players actually deem this important enough to carry psychologists, wherever they travel, at a hefty cost. But Sania's haughty temperament has put her into a spot at times, while at others, its an assorted bunch of ulemas, radical elements that have stoked needless controversies- from the length of her hemline to whether a Muslim can play tennis at all! If Sania has managed to let this not affect her temperament, she must be superhuman.

While she fends of the weight of these controversies, Sania must also doubtless be feeling the weight of another equally worrisome baggage- the considerable expectations of her fellow countrymen, although (again predictably) she has always denied that she lets this affect her game. Indians always expect too much from their sports stars, maybe because there are very few genuine players of international calibre,in the first place. So the few that are in contention, find themselves buried neck deep under expectations of hundreds of millions of sports lovers. Many a times, its just the pressure of matching up to these, that gets to many a player.

Its time that we let Sania be and come up to whatever level she is capable of. That- along with Sania's own hard work- is the only way to ensure that she rises up, as far as possible. Otherwise, we might just end of killing the hen that lays the proverbial golden egg, under the weight of our own expectations.

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March 17, 2007 2:34 PM

Great post on Sania
. keep up the good work.    

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