“Whenever I see Prajnesh Anna do well, it gives me confidence” – India No.7 Manish Sureshkumar

21-year-old Manish Sureshkumar is the leader of the post-Sumit generation crop of players in Indian Tennis. The wiry lad from Chennai grabbed a lot of eyeballs when he achieved his career high ATP Ranking of 508 as a 19-year-old. He then won the Men’s Singles Gold at the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal, beating compatriot Saketh Myneni in the final.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ITF M15 Indore Futures event that was held at the Indore Tennis Club last week, Manish shares insights into the things he is working on with his coach, how seeing the likes of Prajnesh doing well inspires him, his goals for the next year, and much more.

(About The Author–Vishakha is a massive Federer (& Tennis) fan, based in Indore. She has written for leading tennis publications such as Last Word On Sports & SportzCosmos in the past. She is an exceptional artist as well and likes to create doodles during her free time while listening to old-timey music)

Manish during the ITF Indore Futures at Indore Tennis Club

Q) You’d almost touched 500 in the ATP Rankings in 2018 but have stagnated, in terms of ranking, a little since then. What are a few things you think you need to work on making the jump back up and beyond?

I am already trying to make a few changes in my game. I have been working on them since 2018. There have been a lot of doubts, so I haven’t been able to make a big jump. But I’m still working on it with my coach and we are figuring out changes in my game that will help me make the jump.

I just want to stay more aggressive. We are trying to find the right balance between aggression and defence, as you can’t go all out with aggression.

Q) You played a few Futures events in Egypt during the pandemic. How was that experience?

The courts did not suit Indians that much, as they were very slow conditions. It was tough, but it helped me improve my game as I got to hit more balls in slow conditions.

I was a little nervous in the first couple of weeks. It was tough to come back to the circuit after a year and then lose three back to back first round matches, but I took the positives out of those weeks and moved forward.

Q) Could you talk a little about how it feels to have international events in India?

It benefits a lot of Indian players, for sure. You can see how many players have made use of home tournaments in the last 2-3 years. Otherwise it’s tough because a few of the folks are financially sound, but the rest of them struggle to fund their travel to tournaments abroad. If we keep having such events in India, I am sure we will see a lot of more Indians breaking into the top 300 or top 200 soon.

Q) We had a great week in Indian Tennis last week with Sumit reaching the QF in Buenos Aires, Prajnesh making back-to-back Challenger SF, Sania making the semis in Doha, etc. Do these performances inspire you to do better in your matches?

It inspires me a lot. When Prajnesh Anna is in Chennai, we practice together. So whenever I see him do well, it gives me confidence that even I can do well and reach a good level. So if a lot of Indian players do well, it inspires others as well to make it big.

Q) What are a few goals you have set for yourself – both short-term and long-term?

Short-term goals put pressure on you, so I am focusing on long-term goals only. So me and my coach working to figure out how to get where I want to be. I would say cracking the Top 300 in a year would be a realistic goal for me right now.

Vishakha Khandelwal is a Master of Journalism student at The University of British Columbia. Based in Vancouver, she has written for leading tennis publications such as Last Word On Sports, Last Word On Tennis, and SportzCosmos in the past. Vishakha has always been passionate about interesting storytelling. She is also an artist who likes to create doodles during her free time while listening to classic rock. She also enjoys the outdoors and believes that there’s nothing a hike can’t fix.

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