Siddharth Vishwakarma was climbing up the ladder of Indian tennis in 2018 and topped off the year by winning the Fenesta Open National Tennis Championships the same year. And one would have hoped that he would start building on that success thereafter.
Instead, he dropped off the circuit and started coaching in a local academy in Noida since his parents could not afford to fund his expenses. He made a comeback at the start of the year, once again won the Fenesta Open last month and capped it off with a men’s singles gold medal in the 37th National Games at the Fatorda Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
Vishwakarma defeated his state-mate and the player with whom he bagged the men’s doubles Bronze, Siddharth Rawat, in three sets and made it a week to remember.
“I feel very proud today to win UP’s first ever tennis Gold medal in this event. I could not have asked for anything more from my first ever outing at the National Games. It’s a great feeling,” said the Varanasi-born player. It looked like the 29-year-old was running out of steam due to the sweltering conditions but found enough reserves to win the decider.
“It felt like I was competing against not just my opponent, but also the weather today as I really struggled to keep up my level of play the longer this match went on in the heat. At the end, my strategy of relying on my big serve and attacking groundstrokes paid off in the crucial moments,” he said after the match.
Vishwakarma is no stranger to adversities in life. His father is a factory worker in Varanasi and mother a housewife and funds to support his tennis career were always difficult to raise.
Tennis is an expensive sport to play, with expenses like coaching, travelling around the world, purchasing equipment, tournament registration fees and accommodation are all borne by the players themselves. Hence, it’s difficult to make a career in the sport without a sponsor to provide financial support or a strong financial background of the family.
“It was extremely heart-breaking for me to give up on the sport I had been playing since the age of 9. But there was nothing I could do as my family simply did not have the money needed to support my dream.
“It was also frustrating because 2018 was a great year for me performance wise; I was ranked number 7 in India and was routinely beating players in the 200-300 ITF ranking range while I was ranked significantly lower myself.
“I loved the sport, but without having money to compete or even train in a good facility, I resorted to becoming a tennis coach for some time in an amateur academy as I practically knew nothing else apart from the game,” said Vishwakarma, while explaining his predicament.
This hiatus lasted four years until Vishwakarma got in touch with his former coach Ratan Prakash Sharma again, who offered to support and train him as he strongly believed in the boy’s talent. S
Speaking about his comeback, Vishwakarma said, “When I came back after such a long gap, I was so out of practice that I could barely even hit two balls properly. My peers used to laugh at me and say things to pull me down either to my face or behind my back. To tell you the truth, even when I had thoughts of giving up, that motivated me even more to prove to all of them just what I am capable of.
“Now that I have done that, I have shut them up for good now, I never hear people saying I’ll never amount to anything any longer,” he added.