KIUG 2022: Sravya Shivani aims to make tennis more accessible to new players

Lucknow, May 27 (IANS) Sravya Shivani, an Indian international tennis player who won two medals, including a gold, in the 2019 South Asian Games, is participating in her second Khelo India University Games and trying to give back to the sport to make it more accessible.

Sravya, who won a gold medal in the Bhubaneswar edition of the games, is one of the six players selected in the ITF’s World Women’s Tennis Player Panel representing Asia/Oceania. Through this, she is making efforts to make the sport more accessible to new players in Asia.

Regarding her significant role in the Khelo India University Games representing Jain University, Bangalore, 23-year-old Sravya said, “I have always been passionate about making the sport more accessible. We have a lot of talent in Asia, not only in India but also in Japan, China, and Korea. We are all talented and hardworking, but we do not get the same opportunities as players from the other side of the world. I want to make tennis accessible to everyone.”

“I am not just playing the game, but I am also giving back to the sport. I want to ensure that the coming generation does not struggle for anything and focuses only on their game,” she added.

Sravya’s brother, Tarun Aniruddh, also plays tennis. She used to accompany him to tennis practice, and it was during that time that her interest in the sport grew.

“I continued playing tennis at the school level, but at the professional level, I took a step back at the age of 16 because my parents wanted me to equally focus on education. That’s why I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Psychology at Jain University,” Sravya was quoted as saying in a media release.

Sravya enjoys playing doubles. She has already won two international titles in this event.

“I won the doubles nationals in 2014, and from there, I felt that it would be good for me to pursue tennis professionally. At that time, I realised that doubles would be suitable for me. I had a passion for it, and I have been a big fan of Sania Mirza and Leander Paes. Moreover, our country has produced many excellent doubles players,” the tennis player said.

In 2022, Sravya won the ITF title with Chelinda Simunyu in Nairobi. Looking ahead, she said, “I always wanted to be a doubles player, but at the same time, I also tried my hand at singles because if you are playing doubles, you get to play only one match, but if you are also playing singles, you can get more match practice. I strive to maintain my ranking in both singles and doubles, but doubles is my first love.”

Notably, Sravya’s WTA singles ranking is 917, with a career-best ranking of 900. In doubles ranking, she is ranked 718 in WTA, with a career-best of 715. In ITF rankings, Sravya is ranked 432. Her career-best in ITF is 261 (March 2023).

Starting tennis at the age of 7, Sravya spent two years at the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy. She said, “In 2019, I went to the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy. I stayed there for two years, and my tennis improved significantly. Now, I practice under Suresh Krishna in Hyderabad.”

Asked about her goals other than inspiring others at a young age, Shravya, who won the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour title in Monastir in 2021 with Sharmada Balu, said, “I have played for India. I have heard the national anthem being played. Nothing can give a more fulfilling feeling than that. My real dream is to hear the national anthem playing at the Olympics, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games. Additionally, I want to play in the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly Fed Cup). It is very important to me.”

Shravya also believes that the Khelo India University Games is a fantastic initiative.

“It is a fantastic initiative. It is benefiting the athletes immensely. Travel and accommodation for any event can be expensive, but here it is free. Khelo India is providing excellent exposure to new athletes and helping them play at the highest level,” she concluded.

–IANS

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