Akanksha hopes KIYG tennis win brings funds to travel abroad
Maharashtra’s Akanksha Nitture rallied from the set down to defeat Karnataka’s Suhitha Maruri (16) 6-7, 7-6 6-4 and claim the girls’ tennis singles title at the Khelo India Youth Games here on Saturday. The 19-year-old will wait to be rewarded for her perseverance in the blazing sun with a scholarship from the organisers.
The financial assistance will help the Mumbai-based Nitture fund her trips abroad for ITF tournaments—she is 15th in the national senior rankings—that will help improve her WTA rankings. “I have been low on funds in the last few years. My father is a teacher and cannot afford my travelling, diet and other requirements. My coaches and I have been looking for sponsors but have not succeeded. I won silver in the last Khelo Games in Guwahati in 2019, but due to Covid much time got lost.
“Winning gold here gives me hope of winning a scholarship. I have two back-to-back ITF tournaments lined up in Gurugram,” said Nitture, who trains at Mumbai’s ASA Academy. She hit the headlines last year after winning the singles and doubles at the national under-18 clay court championships in Chennai.
“That double title win was a major fillip for Akanksha. She became big in the U-18 circuit. She has been outstanding in Maharashtra. The only constraint is financial issues. She is not able to travel for ITF tournaments in India as well as abroad… (she) has never travelled abroad for a tournament. Then how will her WTA ranking improve?” asked her coach Shekhar Tompe.
Her WTA ranking is a lowly 1155. “She should be within 500 by the year end if she plays half the ITF tournaments left this year,” Tompe said.
That Nitture will be a tennis player was decided before she was born, by her father Dileep, a former tennis player. A computer science teacher and part time tennis coach, Dileep is ready to even sell his house to fund his daughter’s trips to play.
“Her father is very passionate about the game. She was seven when she was admitted to our academy,” said Tompo, who hoped some corporate house came to the rescue of the “immensely talented kid.”
Maha ahead of Haryana
Maharashtra topped the medal table with 37 gold, just ahead of Haryana (36)
Maharashtra swimmer Apeksha Fernandes won the 200m girls individual medley with a new meet mark of 2:25.18 seconds though Karnataka continued to dominate the pool, bagging four of the six events on Saturday through Utkarsh Patil (boys 200m backstroke), Ridhima Veerendrakumar (girls 200m backstroke), Aneesh Gowda (boys 800m freestyle) and boys’ 4x100m medley team.