You have probably guessed already that I am talking about the tennis ace Sania Mirza and badminton star Saina Nehwal. The former was born in
Surprisingly, both Sania and Saina came into reckoning in 2003. Sania won the Wimbledon Girls Doubles title that year partnering Alisa Kleybanova of
Sania Mirza’s rise in the women’s tennis arena was meteoric.
Sania Mirza’s victorious march did not stop there. Even without winning many tournaments her rank kept on improving. In August 2007 her world singles rating was 27th, her best ever. Her top rank in doubles was 18.
Then the slide started. Probably the problems Sania faced took their toll. I had briefly mentioned that in a September 2008 post, At 22, can Sania Mirza make a comeback? . Subsequently she had to go through a broken engagement too. As on March 22, 2010, Sania Mirza’s rank was 92 in singles and 36 in doubles.
It is all so sad.
Saina Nehwal’s is a different story. She climbed the ladder slowly but surely. Apart from talent, steady hard work was her forte. Her potential was quite obvious to her father Dr. Harvir Singh and mother Usha Nehwal who was a former badminton champion in Hariyana. They gave her total support.
Saina was initially coached by Dronacharya Award winner SM Arif. She also had a stint with the former Indonesian badminton star Atik Jauhari. Now she is with the badminton academy of the Indian legend P. Gopichand.
2008 saw stunning performances by Saina Nehwal. She achieved what no other Indian woman had till then. She won Chinese Taipei Open, Commonwealth Youth Games, and World Junior Championships. She also reached the quarterfinals in the Beijing Olympics.
Sterling performances followed in 2009. Her world rank that year was 7, which another Indian lady, Ami Ghia, had reached in 1983. The year 2010 started on a high note for Saina Nehwal. She reached the semi finals of the All England Championships and her world rank has improved to 5. Outstanding achievement, at the age of 20.
Ami Ghia who is a national selector now says that Saina would become the World No.1 in course of time. The next two major events waiting for her are Asian Badminton Championships (
It is possible that at one time Saina Nehwal was inspired by Sania Mirza’s achievements. Perhaps it is now the turn of Sania to take encouragement from the positive determination and dedicated effort displayed by the badminton ace.
Sania Mirza still has world class talent. If she applies herself single-mindedly, it may be possible for her to get into the group of top women tennis players. She is only reaching the age of 24. Many stars now ranked above her are older than that.
Also see: A rising hope squashed?