Indian Junior No.1 Aman Dahiya, ranked 92 in the world, made his Grand Slam debut at the French Open, albeit he lost in the qualifying first round to a higher ranked Turkish opponent.
Aman talks about his Europe experience so far, his beginnings in Tennis, how he got better, the future, and much more.
NOTE – The conversation with Aman happened in Hindi, but his answers have been translated to English
Q) How did you start playing Tennis?
No one in my family has a background in sports. Two of my friends used to go to play Tennis, so I saw them and started playing. It was in Sonipat, Haryana. Our school had two clay courts, that is where I started.
Q) When did you know that you are good at this sport?
Actually my father is really interested in Tennis, so he was the one who pushed me. I did not think that I would play professionally. I used to play for just fun. Then slowly I started playing the AITA tournaments in India. My father always used to say that you have to become a good player. He gave me the financial support.
I used to participate in sports in annual day in school. I used to be good in all sports – running, table tennis, etc, and I am really competitive. I really like to win. So that is what helps me in general. But I was never no.1 in the U12/U14 categories, but ever since I joined Altevol Academy in Ahmedabad, I got good coaches, facilities, etc, and I was able to be no. 1 in U18. It was good exposure and I grew a lot.
Q) How did you join Altevol Academy in Ahmedabad?
In my last year of U14, one of my elder brothers (Ajay) got me to Ahmedabad. Through him, I met Jignesh (Raval) Sir of Altevol. I shifted to Ahmedabad in February 2019. My first ITF Juniors was in August, 2019 in Chennai. I performed well, winning three qualifying rounds, and eventually losing to Dev Javia after having 2-3 set points. It really boosted my confidence. It showed me that I can compete against top players.
Q) You played against Samir Banerjee in Delhi later. He went on to win Junior Wimbledon later on. Did you feel he was special when you played against him?
I didn’t think he would Wimbledon champion (laughs). But he was playing really well in that match. Then I saw he was doing well in ITF and suddenly won Wimbledon. I actually felt proud when he won because I had played against him.
Q) You mentioned to European Junior Tour in 2018. Can you share details of that?
The Top 3 of U14 in India were sent to Thailand to play in a tournament. Then 5 players from Asia got selected to go to Europe to get exposure of the weather, courts, etc. We were in Paris for the 1st week, Netherlands for the 2nd, France again for the 3rd, Germany for the 4th, and Belgium in the 5th.
I played doubles with Juncheng Shang, who is junior world number 1, in that tour. Actually, there were multiple players in that camp that have now made the Top 10/20 in the world. I competed well against them and also beat a few of them in practice then.
Q) You won 3 back-to-back ITF Junior titles in Nepal and Indore just before the pandemic….
I was actually really struggling before those tournaments, losing quite a bit. But then I did well in Indore, and it really boosted my confidence for Nepal as well.
Q) How did you deal with the pandemic break?
I was actually staying at Jignesh Sir’s place during the pandemic. So we were watching videos of good players and analysing their games. I was dedicated and kept working hard. I might have played 8 Grand Slams, but couldn’t because of covid. Then I missed the Australian Open due to the vaccine issue.
Q) What is your take on Europe and the level here?
The exposure is the difference. They keep playing at a good level regularly. If I also get the chance to spend time here, I will also get accustomed to this level. I am in touch with Alexander Waske Sir and I will be going there for the first time.
Q) Can you talk about the match at Roland Garros Qualifying?
My purpose was to enjoy out there. All games went to deuce and I made mistakes on crucial points. So I had a lot of fun in this Grand Slam.
Q) What are your plans from here?
I will head to the Alexander Waske Academy in Germany for training. Play a few tournaments in Europe. Then head back to India to apply for the UK visa for Wimbledon.
Q) What are you thinking between US College Tennis or Pro Tennis?
There are financial issues in my family. It’s really tough to play pros without solid financial backing. So I’m thinking of going the US College Tennis route. I’m speaking with Chris Sir (Christopher Marquis). He’s trying to get the best possible college for me next year. But I will play the whole junior schedule this year.
RAPID FIRE –
|Favorite City||Chandigarh in India|
And every country is good in Europe (laughs). Paris, if I had to pick one
|Favorite Food||Rabdi and Rasmalai|
|Favorite Surface||Slow Hard and Clay|
|Favorite Player||Sumit Nagal, Sriram Balaji, Rafael Nadal, and Carlos Alcaraz|
|Favorite Grand Slam||French Open|
|Dream Opponent||Carlos Alcaraz and Sumit Nagal|
|If not Tennis, then?||IPS Officer or Athletics|