Raw talent > Work In Progress > Finished Product – Journey of Karman Kaur Thandi

By Vatsal Tolasaria – 16th June, 2019

This is the first in a series of articles going in-depth into the journey of Karman Kaur Thandi, who at age 20, became just the sixth Indian woman to crack the top 200 in the WTA Rankings

It all started with a father wanting to put his eight year old daughter into a Tennis summer camp. Little did he know that this frivolous decision would hand India one of its best female tennis players ever. Yes, you heard that right! At 21, she’s already one of the most successful female tennis players to have come out of India, becoming just the sixth Indian woman to have cracked the top 200 of the WTA Rankings. And she’s just getting started!

With a mammoth forehand, and a gigantic serve to boot, she has all the ingredients to become a top player. She made her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open earlier this year, where there was this rare exposure to speedometers. She was touching the 180 kmph mark on her serves quite comfortably, which is pretty close to what the WTA top guns clock. She has raw power, which needs to be harnessed correctly. And fortunately, she has a team around her to help her do it.

Her short journey so far has not been short of hurdles though. Goes without saying, Tennis is an expensive sport. To become a world beater, you need to have access to world class training. And to have access to world class training, you need to be able to shell out big money, which not everyone can.

After Karman started dominating the U14 and U16 levels in the country, playing internationally was naturally the next step. While her family was able to arrange for funds for one or two of her tours, to be able to do that for an entire calendar year was proving to be impossible. Fortunately, Karman had a great run in the junior tournaments leading up to the US Open in 2015, where she beat numerous top 50 players, losing exclusively to top 10 players. This run culminated with a Round of 16 finish at the US Open Juniors, where she lost to the world number 2. This made a certain Mahesh Bhupathi take notice of her game, and he took the onus on himself to arrange funds for her from various sources. He helped enrol her name under the Virat Kohli Foundation(VKF) scholarship, that takes care of Karman financially.

Photo Credits – Advantage Tennis International, Canada, Youtube Video Screenshot

Snippets –

  • Only the 6th Indian woman to crack the Top 200 in the WTA Rankings
  • Career high WTA Ranking of 196, with a career high ITF Juniors Ranking of 32
  • Trains at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Nice, France, run by Mr. Patrick Mouratoglou, coach to players like Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsitsipas
  • Won her first singles pro circuit title at ITF $25K Hong Kong event in June 2018, without dropping a set, after losing her first four finals
  • Won her first WTA doubles title at the 2018 WTA Taipei OEC Open, partnering fellow Indian Ankita Raina
  • Made her Grand Slam debut at the 2019 Australian Open, where she lost in the qualifying 0-6 5-7 to 16th seed American Jennifer Brady, after a spirited performance in the 2nd set
  • Could have made her Grand Slam debut at the 2018 US Open, but since it clashed with the Asian Games, she opted to delay her Grand Slam entry as a professional

Karman year-end ranking trend (Source – ITF Tennis)

JOURNEY IN PICTURES –

August 2012 –
Won the MCC Adidas Nationals U14 Singles and Doubles titles in Chennai

April 2013 –

First ITF Juniors Doubles title partnering Nikita Anand at the G5 event in Indore

December 2013 –
First ITF Juniors Singles title at the G4 event in Mumbai

Leander handed the trophy to Karman(Source – Karman FB)

May 2014 –
Selected for the BNP Paribas U16 Junior Fed Cup Asia Oceania team in Kuching, Malaysia

From left – Rushmi Chakravarthi(coach), Pranjala Yadlapalli, Karman Thandi, Abinikka Renganathan (Source – Karman FB)

October 2014 –
Won the WTA Future Stars U16 title in Singapore without dropping a set, where Serena Williams also gifted her an autographed tennis racquet at the draw ceremony

Karman was handed the trophy by 2 time Grand Slam champion Li Na (Credits – WTA)
Interviewed by BBC after her big win at the WTA Future Stars event in Singapore

November 2014 –
Part of the Delhi Dreams team at the Champions Tennis League(CTL), where she got to train with various top players

Karman with 2 time Grand Slam champ Garbine Muguruza after a hit
(Source – Karman FB)

January 2015 –
Won the singles title at the ONGC ITF Juniors G3 event in Kolkata as a WC entrant

Source – Karman FB

June 2015 –
Won her first G1 singles event on her least favorite surface, clay in Offenbach, Germany

Note – It was a red letter day for Indian Junior Tennis, as Sumit Nagal also won the boys title at the same event

Karman and Sumit with their trophies (Credits – Karman Thandi Facebook)

July 2015 –
Was a part of the WTA Future Stars clinic held to inspire kids in Hyderabad

From left – Karman, Sania Mirza, Martina Navratilova, Melissa Pine(Credits – Karman FB)

September 2015 –
Made her Junior Grand Slam debut at the US Open. Made the Round of 16, losing to world number 2 Dalma Galfi

(Source – Karman FB)

November 2015 –
Maiden ITF Pro Circuit doubles title at ITF $10K Gulbarga partnering Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal

From left – Dhruthi, Karman, Prerna Bhambri, Kanika Vaidya (Credits – Team Tennis Academies,  India)

January 2016 –
Made the Round of 16 in singles and QF in doubles(partnering Pranjala Yadlapalli) at the Junior Australian Open

Karman at the 2016 Australian Open(Credits – Team Tennis Academies, India)

Mid 2016 –
Started training at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Nice, France, run by Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ long-time coach

Karman at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy(Credits – International Athletic Pathways)

November 2017 –
Karman landed herself a scholarship under the Virat Kohli Foundation(VKF)

Karman with Virat Kohli at a promotional event(Source – Karman FB)

June 2018 –
Maiden ITF Pro Circuit singles title at ITF $25K Hong Kong after losing her first four finals

Karman with the title at Hong Kong(Source – Karman FB)

August 2018 –
Asian Games debut at Jakarta, Indonesia where she played the singles event and mixed doubles event(partnerting Divij Sharan)

Karman in Jakarta, Indonesia
(Source – Karman FB)

November 2018 –
Maiden WTA Doubles title partnering Ankita Raina at WTA 125K OEC Taipei Open

Ankita and Karman won the WTA Doubles title at the Taipei Open(Credits – Karman FB)

January 2019 –
Grand Slam debut as a professional at the Australian Open 2019

Highlights from her Australian Open Debut

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