Updates from : the scroll.in
The 18-year-old backed her first ITF trophy with two more titles – singles and doubles – in the next week, with an even more dominant margin.
Two-time national champion Mahak Jain won her first International Tennis Federation singles tournament a week ago. A first title is always a cause for celebration but it was her performance in the week that followed that really stood out.
The 18-year-old backed her first international senior trophy with two more titles – singles and doubles – in the next week, with even more dominant margins.
The Indian beat Burundi’s Sada Nahimana in both the singles finals at the $15K tournament Nairobi, Kenya and won the doubles title with Sathwika Sama at the same event, making it three titles in two weeks.
In the first final, Jain was taken to three sets by Nahimana. But in what is a clear marker of her growing confidence and increased fitness, she wrapped the second final in straight sets despite it being the 14th match she played in the two weeks. In the first week, she had dropped 18 games overall but clinched the second title conceding only 12 games in the tournament.
“It has been two really good weeks,” Jain told Scroll.in. “I was training hard and worked on certain aspects of my game to improve and therefore the result. I was very consistent. The courts were really fast, they were shorter rallies, so I had to keep the ball in play more.”
At the Mumbai Open last year, the teenager had spoken about how her game plan is usually to get behind every point.
“Since I don’t have very big strokes, I can’t finish the points really quickly so I try to be in the point, make my opponent move and wait for the right opportunity,” she had said then.
Such a style can make playing for extended periods an arduous task, especially at back-to-back tournaments. But Jain, who trains with coach Sajid Lodi in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, is ensuring that she maintains a certain level of consistency in both her on-court game and off-court preparation. Her composure across 14 matches definitely points to a better level of fitness from the youngster.
“That is still my game. I don’t have a very big game or very big strokes but I have worked more on consistency, to keep the ball in play. [In Nairobi] I didn’t have very tough matches, they were straight sets. By the end of the second week I could feel a little pain, but that is natural after 14 matches,” she added.
“[But] as time passes, I do the regular gym and weight work. Not much change in regime but continuous work which is important. So I am continuing to work, just adding some more exercises,” she said.
The 18-year-old, whose team had decided that she will focus on playing in seniors, transitioned from juniors about two and a half years back when she was 15. The journey has not been easy but her coach believed that she would benefit in the long run.
“It is a very difficult transition because the level all off a sudden changes. I am playing against players who are much older than me and physically stronger. It is tough initially but you get used to it when you play more tournaments,” she explained.
Earlier this year, the revamped tennis ranking rules made it tougher on the ITF circuit with $15K tournaments didn’t give players ATP and WTA points. The rules have since been changed and these points will be counted in her overall tally.
“It was tougher to get into tournaments initially but then by May, June it got easier,” the current world No 621 said.
Jain has no next tournament planned as of now but might play events in India later in the year
“I am in the 12th grade so I have to focus a lot more on my school work this year so I won’t be travelling much,” the student of humanities at Daly College in Indore said.
In her own words, consistency in preparation and performance will be the key for Jain, going forward, even with a break planned.