When newly-crowned national champion Dalwinder Singh first picked up a tennis racquet, he thought he was going to play badminton.
As a student at the government school in Jassowal, Punjab, he had raised his hand at once when Harvinder Singh Saran, the owner of the Harvest Tennis Academy, asked the children if they were interested in learning the sport. Singh, an NRI, set up the Harvest Tennis Academy in 2005 in Punjab, a place where tennis was not a very popular sport.
Today, both finalists of the recently concluded National Tennis Championships train there. Incidentally, Singh’s father is employed as a bus driver at the Harvest Academy, which completely sponsors the player’s career.
Why did Singh raise his hand if he didn’t even know about the sport? To get out of school? To get a chance to play more?
“I can’t really say, I thought it was badminton and a few of us went to the ground. I got out of school as well and here we were given racquets and I soon started to enjoy the sport,” he told The Field.
Singh’s natural talent was spotted by Harvey sir (Saran) and the Punjab youngster soon knew a lot more than just the name of the sport.
That was 13 years ago. Since then, the now 21-year-old has played in the International Tennis Federation circuit and has broken into the top-800 in the ranking. He reached the final of the $10,000 ITF men’s Futures tournament at the Harvest Academy in May 2016, but lost to Vishnu Vardhan 7-6(4), 6-4 on his home turf.
The national title is his biggest triumph yet, and in his own words, was a dream come true. Singh is only the second player from Punjab to win it, after Sunil Kumar Sipeya. He had lost in the quarter-finals in the last edition of the event, and was seeded fourth this year.
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