Reshma, with little sis in tow, making her mother proud

focus on sports talent

Reshma Maruri's coach and India Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali sees shades of Sania Mirza in the young tennis player. DH PHOTO/ S K DINESH

Harika Maruri was a die-hard Steffi Graf fan and it wasn’t difficult for her to decide on what her two daughters should pursue. Reshma Maruri, the elder one, got hooked on to the stylish nature of the sport. With her younger sister, Suhitha Maruri, she formed a quality doubles pair. Today, the Maruris are a happy tennis-loving family.

Reshma is India’s top-ranked player in the girls’ U-16 section. She won the Fenesta Nationals (U-16) in New Delhi last month. The celebrations of her maiden triumph got bigger when she wrapped up the tournament by winning the doubles’ crown with Suhitha.

Ten years since picking up the racquet, Reshma’s progress can be best described as systematic. Understanding the importance of all-round tennis has been the 16-year-old's biggest learning so far. Being a strong baseline player, joining the Zeeshan Ali Academy proved to be a good move.

“Under Zeeshan sir, I got better at point construction and playing according to the opponent. For example, in the Fenesta Nationals final, my opponent Pari Singh was a strong defensive player. So I came forward to the net many times and even played a lot of drop shots,” describes Reshma, a 11th standard student of Geethanjali Olympiad School.

Zeeshan is impressed with Reshma’s start. So much so that the India Davis Cup coach drew parallels with Sania Mirza. “Reshma has a great future. I have seen Sania do well at this age and players like Reshma are no less if you compare,” he observes.

The 49-year-old Olympian shed light on the challenges of coaching a young talent like Reshma. “It wasn’t a smooth sailing when we began. She was an introvert. It took her a long time to come out of the shell. Now, she is able to tell about her difficult areas and I am able to work on it,” he explains.

Armed with a quality double-handed backhand, Reshma has it in her to play at the highest level, feels Zeeshan before adding, "but a lot depends on how she prevails in this crucial phase."

“Currently, she isn’t a rookie but she is also not a senior player. It is that stage of her career where financial support matters a lot. A strong sponsorship deal can help her achieve something big,” he says.

Reshma enjoys her sister’s success. Suhitha, all of 13, has already taken big strides. “We talk a lot about tennis. I am happy with the way we have progressed as a doubles’ team,” she says.

With improved fitness and confidence, Reshma is keen to do well in the upcoming ITF meets and doesn’t forget to thank her father Koti Reddy Maruri, an Infosys employee, for his unstinted support.

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