Interview with Zeel Desai

By : Vatsal Tolasaria, December 2, 2017

She is one of the best juniors to come out of India. 18 year old Zeel Desai from Gujarat has had a stellar junior career, reaching a career high of 18 in the ITF Junior Rankings. In her last year in Juniors. Desai made it to the quarter-finals in the Girls Singles at the Australian Open, and the Round of 16 at Wimbledon. These are very impressive results for an Indian junior tennis player.

Desai has started to make waves in the Women’s circuit as well, winning her first ITF Singles Pro Circuit title this year in Gwalior, and reaching a career high WTA Ranking of 611.

Indian Tennis Daily got a chance to talk to her, as she tries to end 2017 on a good note, with the ITF Women’s events lined up in Maharashtra in December.


Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 7.36.20 PM
Zeel Desai hitting a forehand on the hallowed grass of Wimbledon

Here are the excerpts :

Q) When did you start playing tennis? What got you interested in the first place?

I started playing tennis when I was 6 years old. My dad used to play tennis with me at my home and then gradually, I developed interest and joined an academy. Once I started getting good results, I decided to go for a pro career.

Q) When did you first realize that you were good at this sport? Or when did your parents realize it?

When I went for my first tennis session in an academy, my coach saw me play. And he was impressed immediately. Then he suggested my parents to take this sport seriously and that I can have a very bright future in this sport.

3) You’ve played all the Junior Grand Slams this year. Which one was the most memorable?

It was my dream to play all the 4 Grand Slams . My favourite one was Wimbledon because I like playing on grass.

And the second one would be the Australian Open because I was the first player from India to be in the Quarter-Finals in 65 years in the Women’s Singles.

4) How was your experience of winning your first pro title in Singles in Gwalior this year?

It was great. I gave my best and played my heart out. It was a transition phase for me, when I was turning into a women’s player from a junior, so I was happy after winning in Gwalior. The win was very special.

 

5) What has been the role of the Gujarat Government in your development?

The Gujarat Government supports me a lot in all my tennis expenses. Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to play so many tournaments around the globe. Their support is invaluable, as I can just concentrate on my game.


6) What do you consider as the strengths and weaknesses in your game and why?

Strength – Serve and ground strokes
Weakness- Body strength

Me and my coach, Todd Clark, are working hard on my weaknesses

7) We are seeing quite a few good youngsters coming up from Gujarat. How is the Tennis Circuit scene in Gujarat? What has been driving this success? Do you keep a tab on the upcoming players from your hometown / state?

In the AITA circuit, mainly top players in all the category are from Gujarat. So I think it is definitely growing. There are a lot of academies coming up in Gujarat. And the government is also very actively support upcoming talented players. That has been the main reason for the success.

8) What are the best parts of life on the tour? What do you like and dislike?

Like- Trying different food
Dislike- flight journey

If I get upgraded to business class then that dislike would turn into a like section(laughs)

9) What are your goals for this year and the upcoming year?

This year’s goal is to reach my highest WTA ranking and in the upcoming year will be to become India Number 1.

 

Rapid Fire Questions

Question Answer
Dream Mixed Doubles Partner Roger Federer
Things you do when you are free Dance
Favorite food Pani Puri
The song that’s been on loop for you recently Oonchi Hai Building
Favorite cricketer Virat Kohli
Celebrity Crush Akshay Kumar
Favorite city Ahmedabad
A place you haven’t been to but love to visit Switzerland
Favorite surface Grass
Favorite Tournament Wimbledon
Best friend on Tour Rutuja Bhosale and Lulu Sun

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