Govind Nanda – Indian-American making waves in US Tennis: ITD Interview

Interview by Gautam Belday – Oct 7, 2018

This is our first in a series of interviews where we intend to highlight prominent players of Indian Origin across the world!

Govind Nanda is a name that most Indian tennis fans will be hearing more of in the coming years.  The 17 year old has been one of the top players on the US junior circuit for many years. He is currently a senior in high school, ranked in the top 10 in the country in his age group, and has recently accepted an offer from UCLA (University of California: Los Angeles), a top tier Division 1 university in the US.

Govind was recently recognized as one of the top American prospects by USTA Player Development and was invited to be part of the US junior Davis cup.  He also competed in the 2018 French Open and Wimbledon in the juniors section.

He took some time out of his busy training and travel schedule for this interview with ITD.

Photo credit: Govind Nanda fan page on facebook

Can you give a little bit of background about yourself?

I am 17 years old and I live in Cerritos, CA. I live with my mom, dad, and sister. My mom’s name is Meena Nanda, my dad’s name is Rajesh Nanda, and my sister’s name is Shyamlee Nanda. I grew up in a city called Redlands and moved to Cerritos 3 years ago to be closer to where I train.

Can you go through your tennis journey from when you first started playing until today?  I believe you went to Clement Middle school in Redlands, California along with your sister. How was that initial journey, and your experience playing alongside your sister?

I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old.  I started playing in Redlands at Clement Middle School with a coach named Charles Mosely.  I have always enjoyed playing and competing.

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Photo credit: Govind Nanda fan page on facebook

What made you choose the sport?

My sister started playing it and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. We were competitive and she always used to beat me and that drove me to want to be better.

jackietaum2
Govind Nanda (right) with his sister Shyamlee. Photo credits: Gion tennis

Did you play any other sports as a child?

I played basketball.

Where and who do you train with currently? Academy, personal coach etc.

I train at the USTA center in Carson, CA with my coach Vahe Assadourian.

What role does your family play in your overall tennis development?

They support me a lot and they make sure I am moving in the right direction.

What are your goals (short term, intermediate and long term) with respect to tournaments, ranking, colleges, going professional etc.

My goal is to be the best in the world at the professional level. I don’t really have a ranking goal, I am just trying to develop my game at the moment.

Based on your national standing, you are currently ranked 6 in the nation in your graduating class (as per tennis recruiting).  Are you thinking about colleges yet? What colleges are you interested in?

I actually have verbally committed to UCLA in January and am very excited to play there.

An article was published last week (after this interview was completed) on Tennis Recruiting, a site that provides services and content to juniors interested in playing college tennis.  

Reference: https://www.tennisrecruiting.net/article.asp?id=275688231

Can you share some thoughts on your recent experience playing in French Open and Wimbledon?

It was an amazing experience and I really had a lot of fun competing against some of the best juniors in the world. I will hopefully play again next year.

What is the experience like playing ITFs overseas vs. the USTA tournament circuit. Which do you prefer and why?

I enjoy playing ITFs a bit more just because I feel like it is set up more like pro events. It is fun meeting new people and traveling to different places also.

You have continued to persist with the tough US circuit on the pro tour.  Have you considered traveling to other regions to boost your ranking? How important is ranking at this stage of your career?

The transition tour is coming soon so I have not thought about traveling for pro events. I think the events in the US are good because there are always good players and good matches. So I will probably be staying in the US to play pro events.

You were selected to be part of the Team USA National Junior Team with seven other boys.  Can you elaborate a bit on your experience being part of this team? What did you learn from it?

Reference:  http://www.playerdevelopment.usta.com/news/eight_us_boys_named_to_2017_team_usa_national_junior_team/

It was definitely very fun being part of this team. I knew a lot of the guys and we had a lot of fun going to these tournaments and playing in them.

You played a big role in the US team reaching the Jr Davis Cup finals (especially against Argentina). Can you talk through your journey over there?

Junior Davis cup was an extremely fun experience. I actually got injured the first day of practice and was unable to participate the first match. I was also still a bit hurt in the first match I played and was not 100 percent throughout the week. I competed my heart out and unfortunately came up short in the finals but was really happy with how our team competed as a unit.

21686476_10155624631476897_9217087379283303326_nScreen Shot 2018-10-04 at 9.19.57 PM

Photo credit: Govind Nanda fan page on facebook

ITF Orlando Futures: 5 wins in a row to get your first ATP point. Includes win over #663 ranked player, one of your biggest Pro Tour wins. Talk us through your experience there. You had a few cracks at Futures Qualifying before that.

This was one of the toughest weeks I have played so far. I had just turned 16 and had to play against guys who were way older and stronger than me. I competed very hard that week and almost won my 6th match also. I lost to a guy named Peter Nagy who was ranked around 400 at the time. 7-6 6-7 6-4. It was a great experience and I was really happy to pick up my first point.

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Photo credit: Colette Lewis

Results on the junior circuit don’t always translate onto the men’s circuit.  What are you doing to ensure that your development stays on track?

I am not that worried about results in any tournaments. I am just trying to stay committed to what I practice and just keep developing.

Tennis is a very expensive sport. Are you currently sponsored by anyone?

I am only sponsored for rackets and clothing but everything else involving travel my parents pay for.

Tennis is a very popular sport in India and the country has produced a lot of very good players in the past.  How aware are you of the current Indian players on the tour (juniors, men and women)?

There are a few guys on the mens tour who are doing well such as Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

Based on your experience playing on the junior circuit, what specific advice do you have for up and coming junior players (in the under-12 and under-14 age groups)?

Keep practicing hard and don’t worry about the results. Just work really hard and have fun.

We remember seeing your pic shared by Borna Coric at Indian Wells last year. How did you get this opportunity and how was the experience.

Starwing agency set this hit up for me and it was a very fun experience. He was a nice guy and I thought I hit very well.

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Photo credit: Govind Nanda fan page on facebook

Rapid fire

What do you do in your free time? I like to play video games and watch Netflix
Favorite Author / Artist Eminem is my favorite artist
Dream Mixed Doubles partner Genie Bouchard
Favorite Cuisine / Food I like sushi a lot
Favorite Surface Grass
Favorite Tournament Wimbledon
Favorite Sport / Fav player Tennis/Rafa
Favorite country you’ve been in and why? Italy because of the food
A place / country that you haven’t been to, but would like to visit Japan
The song that’s been on loop for you recently Lucky you
Best win of your career I am not sure
A loss that hurt you the most Probably Davis Cup final last year
Best friends on tour I have a lot of best friends haha
If you had to choose another profession, what would that be I would’ve love to have been an NBA player
Your nickname Gov
Racquet that you use Yonex currently
Most unforgettable travel experience Going to Italy and France this year.

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