Mahak Jain's meteoric rise and scintillating 2017 season
Taking the RK Khanna Stadium in New Delhi by storm on Saturday, 16-year-old Mahak Jain stole the hearts of fans when she clinched the women’s singles Fenesta Open National Tennis championship title. Seeded fifth in the tournament, Mahak displayed a brilliant show of determination to take out her stronger compatriot and top seed Zeel Desai 7-5 6-3 in the final to wear the National Championship crown.
Born on 24th June 2001 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, Mahak is now a promising talent in Indian tennis. Daughter of a Chemical Engineer, Mahak belongs to the city that never sleeps, Mumbai, but the family shifted base to Indore for the little girl who dreams of being a tennis star. Training at the Sajid Lodi Tennis Academy, Mahak is well on her way to realising her dream.
Right from a tender age of 10 when other girls' minds are filled with thoughts of Barbie dolls, Mahak’s forte was holding a racquet and thrashing tennis balls. She always wanted to make tennis her career which is why moving from the glitz of Mumbai in 2015 to Indore for training was a very difficult decision. But sacrifice and penance are two pillars that make champions and this is the case with Mahak. Her family has been extremely supportive of her and this is playing a crucial role in bringing out the best in her.
Playing opponents older than her, Mahak believes that it’s not too difficult for her to beat them. Her win over the top seed Zeel Desai, who is two years older, in the finals is a testament to this fact. Even though Desai is ranked 10 places ahead in the International Tennis Federation rankings and boasted of a better head to head record over Mahak, it did not come in the way of her victory.
A scintillating 2017 season
The year began on a positive note for Mahak. Riding a wave, she began the year with two titles in January. First, the ITF Grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Stadium in Chandigarh, beating Axana Mareen. Seeded No.1 in that tournament, Mahak defeated fourth seed Mareen of Belgium 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the finals. After having won the Grade-2 title in Japan last year, this win came as a huge boost for the diminutive Mahak’s confidence.
Her second win was in the India ITF Juniors 2 in Delhi, where she beat Zeel Desai in the final at the DLTA Complex in Delhi. Seeded second, she beat top seed Zeel 7-6(6), 6-3 to clinch the title. Mahak did her coach, Sajid Lodi, extremely proud by taking down a rival who had got the better of her in the final of the same tournament the previous year.
The experience that changed her life for good was her first ever Grand Slam, the Australian Open. Thanks to her top 50 ranking, Mahak got a direct entry into the juniors at the Grand Slam in Melbourne. In the process, she became the first ever woman from the state of Madhya Pradesh to make it to such a big tournament.
Mahak described her experience there as an overwhelming one. Being a Rafael Nadal fan herself, she was quoted saying that watching the big stars hitting together in the same space was truly inspiring.
The loss at the hands of Marta Kostyuk 3-6, 3-6 in the first round was painful but nothing in comparison to all that she got to learn and imbibe from the tour.
Making her bow at the All England Club, Wimbledon, was another feather in the cap for Mahak. She played in the girl's doubles event with Mihika Yadav but crashed out in the first round to the American-British pairing of Kayla Day and Katie Swan.
In singles qualifying, she made it to the second round where she lost 2-6 1-6 to American third seed Claire Liu.
In 2015, Mahak won the “Road to Wimbledon” title for under-14 girls. For Mahak, rubbing shoulders with the best tennis players at Wimbledon that year was a dream come true. Sharing the courts with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and several juniors was an experience that, according to her, would remain with her forever.
Failures are lessons too
Along with a series of successes, she also endured a string of painful losses. Losing to her compatriot, the top-ranked Desai at the ITF women’s circuit, $15k tournament in Gwalior, Mahak was despondent.
Another runner-up finish was at the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup in Malaysia in March. Mahak also lost the final of the Asian Junior Tennis Championships to second seed Mihika Yadav in June despite being the top seed.
However, her recent National Tennis Championship victory is one that confirms her status as a rising star and one to watch out for in the future.
It will extremely interesting to see how the next season unfolds for the talented youngster. We wish you luck, girl. Go make waves, the entire world is waiting to see you.