By Vandana Elangovan – Sep 1, 2018
Mahak Jain burst into the Indian Tennis scene when she won the U-14 Road to Wimbledon title. Since then, there’s been no turning back for her. Just 17 years of age, she is still young enough to play juniors, but has already been making her mark in the Women’s circuit. Winning the Women’s National Championships at 16 is just another feather on her cap. Armed a good forehand and solid groundstrokes, this girl from Indore is definitely a player to watch out for.
The Indian Tennis Daily caught up with her on the back of her good run in Jakarta,where she had a runners-up and a semifinal finish.
How old were you when you started playing tennis? What got you interested in the game?
I started playing when I was eight and a half years old. My dad already used to play so, so he put me into the sport. I really loved it, so I continued.
When did you decide that tennis is going to be your career?
I was 10 years old at that time. I started playing tournaments and I saw myself doing well at those tournaments and I thought that I should take it up as a career.
Can you share something about your family and your background? How supportive have your parents been?
Ofcourse. My parents, my brother and in fact my entire family has been very supportive. They have always been there for me, to help me out in whichever way possible.
You moved from Mumbai to Indore to train at the Sajid Lodi Tennis Academy. So how did that decision come about?
Well, I had come to Indore before for tournaments & got the opportunity to meet Sajid Sir. We really liked the academy and the way he trains and coaches and the entire program. So we decided to shift. Thankfully he agreed to coach me.
Mahak with her coach Sajid Lodi(Left) and father( right)
Can you share the role of the Academy and your coach in shaping your game and career so far?
Sajid Sir has played a major role in shaping my game and helping me grow more as a player. In fact, the entire team, the Physio, the fitness coach and everybody there have really helped me a lot to be where I am now.
When you initially came to the Academy, what were the things that they worked on?
Technique wise – my service, my stroke, agility, stamina. Actually everything. Started working hard and this helped to improve my game which is still going on.
How have you managed to balance your tennis and your education so far? Has your school been supportive?
Yes, I studied in Daly College and it is one of the best schools I have ever been to. They are so supportive. They can give me classes whenever I like and they have no pressure, like I have to come to school this time or that time. I can plan according to my timing. They have been really helpful and I’m very thankful for that.
How was your experience playing at the Junior Grand Slams? Also how did you feel when you won ‘The Road to Wimbledon’ in 2015?
When I won that tournament, it was a special feeling because that was the first time I played on grass. It was amazing to be there and to compete with those players and finally to win was great. And of course, playing Grand Slams was an unbelievable experience – to be around all the top players and to play in that environment was very special. And I met a lot of top players …. Serena, Halep, Nadal, Federer, so on…..
You had an amazing Junior record and you were making parallel inroads in the pro circuit as well. How did you manage playing both? What difference did you find between these two circuits?
Moving from juniors to seniors is a tough phase, because there is a big difference in the level of competition. We made a decision, because at the end of the day I have to perform at the Women’s. To play against those strong players, it has been tough but it’s been a great going. I got a good exposure playing those players.
You are still young enough to play in the juniors as well. But you have decided not to play Juniors any more. How did that decision come about? What is the idea behind it?
Well, I saw that the earlier I start in the women’s circuit, the better it is. And to play both juniors and seniors is not possible, because then I won’t get time for coaching. That’s why we took this decision.
Why not only Junior Slams, if your ranking is below 500 in the pro circuit?
Because I won’t get in. To get into Junior Slams, I have to be in top-100. If I don’t play any junior tournaments, then I won’t be in top-100.
You just made the finals in Jakarta and you had a good run in Indonesia. How was that experience and what are your goals moving forward?
I had two good weeks in Indonesia and that was good competition. I got good exposure and I also learnt a lot of things from those matches. In Indonesia, that was 15,000$ and now I plan to mostly play 25,000$ bigger tournaments. My year-end goal would be to break into top-500 or 400. How I perform in the tournaments-it depends on that.
At 16, you won the National Championship (Fenesta Open) beating Zeel (Desai ) in the final. How crucial was that win for you?
Of course, Nationals is one the biggest tournaments in India. And to be in the finals and to win that tournament means a lot to me.
Mahak Jain with Dipa Karmakar after winning Fenesta Open in 2017
Photo Source: Scroll.in/Mahak Jain
Can you share your training regime? How many hours do you put in a day?
Well, I start in the morning. I play tennis for two hours and then have gym for an hour and half and then I play tennis in the evening again for two hours.
You had a stint at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy? How did that come about? Do you plan on training abroad?
I do go abroad for training because, basically there are more tournaments over there. So I have to keep playing more there. Sometimes, I go to an academy over there, train and play some tournaments there to get the exposure.
So what are the academies that you have trained in so far?
Mouratoglou and then I have been to one academy in Spain. I have been to one academy in France. So I keep changing.
We know that you have a big forehand. Can you break down your game for us? Which areas do you think you should work on?
Definitely on my serve. I have to work on my serve, agility, overall.
You must have grown up watching Sania Mirza play. How big an impact did her rise have on you?
Of course a lot. To know an Indian woman has done so well in tennis and reached so much heights. Of course, it’s a proud moment and it also motivates us to do that and be at that level.
Have you met her or played with her anytime? Did she give any tips for you?
I have met her once but haven’t played with her.
How has life on tour been so far? Any funny or weird experience that you have had?
I’m mostly traveling. Sometimes when I go for team events like Junior Fed Cup- those are good times to be with my team. To play those tournaments for India has always been prestigious.
Talking about Junior Fed Cup, you played in the World Tour Finals. How was that experience?
It was wonderful to play all the top players from all the European and American countries. It was a wonderful experience to represent my country over there.
Mahak with the Indian Junior Fed Cup Team in Delhi
Any memory from World Tour Finals that comes to your mind?
That was the only tournament I have traveled without my parents. To be with my teammates and to having that team spirit, working together – I think that would be it.
We have a good crop of young players in you, Karman, Mihika, Pranjala, Zeel and so on. What is the equation amongst you?
Mihika is a good friend of mine. We are very close. We played doubles also in Wimbledon. I’m on good terms with all the players.
Do you travel with your coach/family on tour?
Mostly with my family. Mom and sometimes both mom and dad accompany me.
Mahak with her parents
Tennis is a pretty expensive sport. How have you managed your finances so far? Do you get any outside support or sponsorship?
I have one sponsor-Lakshya, which sponsors and helps me a lot with my travelling and everything. I’m also sponsored by Head(for racquets).
|Favourite Food||Italian. I’m not much of a foodie.[Fun Fact: Her mom cooks for her on tour]|
|Recent Favourite Song||Back to You|
|Racquet that you Use||Head Instinct|
|Closest Friend On Tour||Mihika Yadav|
|Favourite Non-Tennis Sport||I don’t watch any other sport except for tennis|
|Dream Mixed Doubles Partner||Alexander Zverev|
|Biggest win of your career so far||U-14 Road to Wimbledon|
|A loss that hurt you the most||Every loss hurts a lot|