This is the sixth 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
Previous articles in the series –
1) Raw talent > Work In Progress > Finished Product – Journey of Karman Kaur Thandi
2) “Karman playing Tennis is like Sehwag playing Cricket” – Coach Aditya Sachdeva
3) “Karman is moving in the right direction every year” – mentor Bhupathi
4) Kerber’s former coach Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh shares his experience of working with Karman
5) “You cannot have any glaring weaknesses after crossing top 200” – Coach Bobby Mahal
While one can’t exactly term Karman’s rise in the pro circuit as meteoric, if one compares it to Indian standards, it is meteoric in its own right. She is one of the brightest prospects to have come out of our country in women’s tennis.
She made her Fed Cup debut for India in February 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, and coincidentally, the Fed Cup event was held in the same country this year as well, where Mr. Vishal Uppal was the team captain. We caught up with Mr. Uppal to gather his thoughts Karman’s game and progress –
Q) Karman is a very special player. Your thoughts on her game?
I think she has a big game. She has a big serve and can really hit a big forehand. I think her game needs a little bit of time to mature because she makes too many errors which you cannot afford at the highest level. She is young and she is motivated and is working hard.
Q) How has she changed as a player and a person since she’s come into the Fed Cup side?
I was very happy to see how she went about preparing for her matches and she was very diligent and those are all good signs. Having said that, her game needs time to mature and we have to continue to back her and help her in any which way we can.
Q) What are the few things she needs to change in her game in order to take the next step?
I think she definitely needs to construct points a little better. She needs to understand when to use her weapons and that will come with maturity and playing a lot more. I gave her my feedback and hopefully she will take some points out of that. It is important that when you move up the highest level, people are not going to give you anything for free. She has to have that mental focus and the physical ability to stay with these big players in the game points. Overall she has to become a smarter player where she knows how to use her weapons and she has to try to continue to be physically and mentally stronger, that goes without saying. She has time on her side which is a good thing for her.
Q) Playing for your country comes with a certain set of expectations and pressure. How do you think Karman deals with that? Especially at such a young age?
I think playing for your country, from my experience, it’s an honor. That honor is a privilege and that pressure is a privilege. You have to be up for the challenge. She is young, she is growing up. The most important thing was she was giving her best and she was trying her hardest. Thats what you can ask from your players to go out there and give it their best. They win or lose is a separate matter. For her young shoulders, like I said, she will mature, she will get better at it and the fact that she is hungry to do it is a very good sign for her.
Q) Who do you think our India’s next bright prospects on the women’s side after Karman and Ankita?
It’s not just Karman and Ankita who are doing well. Rutuja is doing well. Pranjala is doing well. Mahak Jain is also showing some good results. Zeel Desai has been showing some good results. These are the names we can often talk about but the nature of the sport has become now, in the next 1 or 2 years, there will be a few surprises that will come through we havent heard till now. Thats a good part of indian tennis that there are many young girls, Mihika Yadav or Riya Bhatia, there are many names. Its just the matter when they mature, when they start converting their talent into results. That will be the big turning point for all.