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Susita Das on her journey, tennis in India and women in sports

Susita Das, a tennis player from India, shifted around the globe but the one thing she took along with herself was her love for the sport. She talks to us about her pursuit of tennis, her break from the sport and finally touches upon her plans for the future as a tennis coach.

Susita Das
Susita Das eyes the ball, ready to strike. Source: ReelWorldMedia.

Sarah Fatima: What do you get up to outside of tennis??

Susita Das: Well, I love music, dance, and interior decoration apart from tennis!

I am also trained in Odissi classical dance and Hindustani Vocal, which takes up a lot my time.

I told my parents that I wanted to go play tennis every evening. Within three years everything else in my life had taken a backseat and it was just tennis and studies!

Can you tell tell us how you initially got involved in the game? What were the driving forces that pushed you to pursue tennis?

I got introduced to tennis for the first time at the age of 7 when I attended a summer camp. I instantly fell in love. I used to take regular dance and music classes then, but after the summer camp, I told my parents that I wanted to go to play tennis every evening.

Within three years everything else had taken a backseat, and it was just tennis and my education!

Even though I started going for coaching regularly after that summer camp, it wasn’t that easy for me. For various reasons, I didn’t get the proper attention or training the way many other players were getting, however, I still kept going every day. Looking back, the determination I had and the will to prove that I belong and learn was the driving force.

How would you describe the support for tennis as a sport in India and specifically the attitude towards female Tennis players?

With time, tennis as a sport in India is getting more support. The attitude towards female tennis players has also changed. I always had the support of my parents.

Some people who would advise my parents not to spend so much money on tennis, what was the point in that, or that I would get dark and have tanned skin or no one would marry me.

Many years ago, Sania Mirza became an example and also helped change the mindset of many people, although she had struggles of her own.

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Not just in tennis, but women in every sport all over the world deserve all the support and a positive attitude from their families and society.

What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a female tennis player in India?

When I started performing well in tennis and started travelling all over India and to other countries, I faced backlash from quite a few people. Some people who would advise my parents not to spend so much money on tennis, what was the point in that, or that I would get dark and have tanned skin or no one would marry me.

I think many girls have faced similar situations. But I am always grateful to my parents, who never paid much heed to such people and helped me chase my dreams.

I think all the parents out there need to support their children, especially their daughters and give them the opportunity to chase their dreams and not stick to societal norms, especially for females.

READ: Moving beyond College Tennis and careers for junior players

What has been your favourite court to play on and why?

My favourite surface to play on is synthetic or hard courts. It is what I played on most growing up and it suits my game the best

You took a break from Tennis in 2013, could you tell me about that? Do you plan on rejoining the sport anytime?

After I graduated from Charleston Southern University in the US where I was playing in NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference, I moved to Australia to do my Masters degree and took a break from tennis.

I play from time to time, but I am not competing anymore. However, I plan to get back to tennis as a coach in the near future.

Susita Das plays a shot
Susita Das plays a shot. Source: supplied

Meenakshi Sundaram has been your coach, could you describe your experience with her coaching? Do you feel coaching facilities in India are up to par with international standards?

I went to Chennai at the age of 14 to train under Meenakshi Sir at his academy, I felt the coaching facilities there were better than they were in my state.

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I trained under him for 4 years and I left to go to the US. The system he had there was very similar to what we had in the US and thus there was no difficulty in adjusting to it.

Not all coaching facilities in India are at par with international standards. Some states need better infrastructure and facilities.

Who are some of the national as well as international players you look up to?

Growing up, I always looked up to Martina Hingis, she was my inspiration. Rafael Nadal although is my all-time favorite.

You can always strengthen your strength and strengthen your weakness. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and always work hard. Hard work can overcome anything!

What has been the highlight of your career? Please elaborate upon this.

There have been many, but looking back, the most precious one was my first ever championship, the Under-10 that I won. It was against all odds and it was when I established that I belong here and I can do this and that was the mark of my journey forward.

The other highlight was getting to travel all over the world and meeting people all over the world because of tennis. Without tennis, none would have been possible.

My years in the US, playing college tennis with my entire team from all over the world and with my coach, Mike Baker has been the best and the most precious time that I will cherish forever!

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Any advice to aspiring Tennis players? Especially the ones in India.

The best advice that I can give is that one should never doubt one’s abilities and compromise on one’s dreams. Don’t let anyone let you that you can’t do something on or off the court.

You can always strengthen your strength and strengthen your weakness. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and always work hard. Hard work can overcome anything!


You can follow Susita Das on Instagram.
For more Tennis content visit Sportageous.
Sarah Fatima assisted in the curation of this article. You can follow her here on LinkedIn

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