Nine girls, including the upcoming Maaya Rajeshwaran Revathi, have been selected in an ambitious ‘Project Grand Slam’ programme, which aims to propel them into junior championships of the tennis majors in 2025.
Besides the 14-year-old Maaya, who is the country’s No. 3 in the Under-16 category but has risen to No. 2 in the U-18 field, the other players have been identified after a rigourous talent search are Prisha Shinde, the Fenesta Open National U-16 champion, Aishwarya Jadhav (U-18 No.3), Kaashvi Sunil, Rishitha Reddy, Nainika Reddy, Yashika Shokeen, Sejal Bhutada, Akruti Sonkusare. The programme will offer comprehensive support including training, coaching, travel to tournaments, access to top-notch facilities and tools for optimal performance.
“We have not had much success with our young girls in the last 5 years. We had just one girl making it to the junior Grand Slams, but through this program, we want to see at least four to five girls play at all the Grand Slam regularly and start a new chapter for Indian tennis, said Sunder Iyer, vice president of Lakshya Sports, which has joined hands with Kolkata-based Amalgam Steel to launch the initiative, which will be guided by respected coaches Hemant Bendrey, S Narendranath, Shivika Burman and Namita Bal.
“We have a series of ITF events in India. We will be sending a travelling coach for the events to support and evaluate the girls. We will then make a final list in the second phase in April 2024,” said Sourav Mishra, Amalgam’s JMD.