City's tennis talent at Oz Open

Suraj R Prabodh plays his first match at the grand slam today

City-based tennis player Suraj R Prabodh will play his first match in the junior category qualifying draw of the Australian Open, the grand slam event being held in Melbourne,  on January 19.

He is among the four Indian players including Rishab Agarwal (Andhra Pradesh), Arjun Khade (Maharashtra) and Haadin Bava (Kerala), who are participating in the tournament.

Suraj had recently won the ITF juniors tournament held in Guwahati recently and reached the semi-finals in championships held in Mumbai and Delhi. He is ranked 240 on the ITF circuit.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Suraj’s father M R Prabodh said that the latter was dismayed that he couldn’t accompany his son for the tournament as his visa wasn’t processed.

However, he expressed confidence that Suraj would shine at the Australian Open. Having travelled alone to Melbourne, Prabhod said Suraj was still coping with the international cultural difference.

Help from friend
But, “luckily a friend in Australia named Chetan is looking after Suraj and giving him moral support.”

Former national player and director of Tennis, N P Raghuveer, who himself has played the pre-qualifying rounds in the French Open, said that Suraj is a very hard working player and his rise is phenomenal as he has no coach.

“To reach the qualifying round is really tough as one has to first go through the pre-qualifying rounds and it is like playing two tournaments,” he said.

“Suraj has guts, he is not chicken-hearted does not really care who his opponent is. He has very good eye to learn from mistakes. Unlike many players, he is willing to work hard and even when it rains, he is training,” said Raghuveer.  

The 17-year-old Suraj is a student of Cauvery Composite PU College. Prabodh said that Vidyashram College assisted Suraj by sponsoring him while participating in various events, which eventually helped improve his international ranking from 2058 to 240 and be the best Indian player in terms of performance.  He is among the top 10 players in the under-18 category.

Suraj happens to be the only player from Karnataka to win an individual event of the inter-school national level tournament conduced jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Olympic Association.

Suraj was a member of the first team from Karnataka to enter finals of the Inter-School National-level Tennis Tournament in Delhi during 2009-2010. The team went on to win the silver medal in the tournament.

With a strong single-handed backhand as his weapon, Suraj had defeated a few Indian top seeds, who are a part of the Junior Davis Cup team.

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