29 May 2017 | Last updated 08:58 AM

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Malikaa ready for bigger challenge
Jigar Hindocha | Friday, 21 April 2017 AT 12:47 PM IST
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Pune: She had been punching above her weight for some time now, and when the real opportunity came by Malikaa Marathe made most of it and won the Indian leg of ‘Rendez-Vous a Roland -Garros’ at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association courts in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The win for Pune teenager came with an added bonus—a ticket to Paris—where she will compete with players from Japan, South Korea, China, Brazil and the United States to earn a wildcard  for the main draw of Junior French Open tournament.

“I am just enjoying my game, the whole tournament in New Delhi was amazing. I enjoyed all the matches and was confident against all the opponents. In the quarter-finals, I defeated Smriti Singh 6-1, 6-3,” Malikaa told Sakal Times in an interview.

“The semi-final match was a tough one against Prerna Vichare, which I won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. First set was a tough but after that, I won both the sets on deuce. Final was also a tough match but I just kept playing my game and won against Yubrani Banerjee,” she said.

Age is no bar for the 13-year old Malikaa, who has inched ahead step-by-step—by defeating players who are in higher age groups.

“It is fun to play against higher age group players but at the same time, I need to increase my energy levels in future so that I can play much better,” said Malikaa, the India No. 1 in Under-14 category.

Malikaa has shown gradual, but constant rise by winning a bagful of tournaments last year. She began 2017 by taking part in ITF Division I Under-14 Asia Championships in New Delhi and then Malikaa won Pune leg of Rendez-Vous a Roland Garros.

“I am just taking one game at a time, I just play my natural game, which is to attack the opponent so I just do that and enjoy. I will continue in the same vien in Paris as well.”

Malikaa, who started playing tennis at the age of 9, won her first title in the Under-10 category in MSLTA event in 2013.

“I started playing tennis as a fun, but later I took it in a serious way. All credit to my coaches and parents who have supported me a lot in good and bad times.”

Malikaa did not have a bright start as a child as she was diagnosed with Amblyopia—a condition that could have led to her losing sight in one eye.

“I was just four when I had a patch on my eye and which was irritating but my parents told me you just need to hang on with the patch for a bit longer to regain sight  in the affected eye. It was tough but I never gave up,”

“Once I recovered from Amblyopia, I never looked back and today I have no problems with my sight,” she added.

At the start of her career, Malikaa trained with Sandeep Kairtane before shifting to Hemant Bendery Tennis Academy at the PYC .

Malikaa also thanked Symbiosis School Principal Veena Havanurkar, who she says provides her great support in her academics.


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