Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nirupama to bolster India's chances

Nirupama Sanjeev, the undisputed queen of Indian tennis for over a decade before she signed off in 2003, is all set to lend a helping hand to resurrect the fortunes of the women's game in the country yet again, by joining hands with Sania Mirza in the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
After making a surprise entry on a wild card in an ITF tournament in Pune last November — she even won a round there — the US-based Nirupama has been trying to sharpen her game on the professional circuit in a series of tournaments in the US and in China in recent weeks.
The 33-year-old, married and mother of a baby girl, runs a tennis academy in the US and has no rank at the moment. She does have 10 WTA points acquired by winning matches in the qualifying rounds of late.
With the likes of Ankita Bhambri, Isha Lakhani and Tara Iyer no longer an active part of the game, the Indian think-tank had no option but to approach Nirupama to bolster the Indian contingent.
Nirupama is being drafted in mainly to be able to combine well with Sania in the doubles which could prove decisive if Sania herself finds the kind of form she was in during the last Asian Games in Doha in 2006, when she won the mixed doubles gold with Leander Paes, the women's team silver with Shikha Uberoi and the individual silver.
Nirupama had won the mixed doubles bronze with Mahesh Bhupathi in the Asian Games in 1998, and represented the country in the Sydney Olympics with Manisha Malhotra.
She was a Fed Cup regular and competed in the Grand Slams for about four years, pushing her singles ranking to a career best 132.
It will be interesting to see how well Nirupama pulls herself up on the professional circuit in the next few weeks to be ready for the big stage.
Otherwise, the onus will be on Rushmi Chakravarthi, Poojashree Venkatesh and Sanaa Bhambri to keep pace with Sania Mirza, who herself seems to have fallen off a bit.

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