Ankita Raina, one of India's brightest prospects in tennis, has been a key figure in the Indian lawn tennis circuit ever since she took up the sport. With multiple achievements under her belt, Raina is often viewed as an inspirational figure for up-and-coming players.
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda at India's first-ever official Wimbledon screening in Mumbai, Raina opened up on a variety of topics, including the Tennis Premier League, her aspirations for the upcoming Asian Games and her journey so far.
The 30-year old spoke about how the Tennis Premier League was due for a while and its inception has helped draw more audiences to the sport.
"I think that was really great as an awareness and to build the sport. In other sports, leagues had come up quite earlier so it was high time that we had a league at a bigger stage in tennis. It will help with giving more exposure to the sport. I feel events like these will help tennis at the very basic level. Even amongst people like parents who do not follow the sport."
She also drew a comparison between the Asian Games and ITF events, stating that the pressure at the Games is significantly higher.
"Seeing the history, we have performed great at the (Asian) Games. In other sports, we have had lots of medals. These games are very important and are very big in India. The pressure that comes with it is very high."
Having won a bronze medal at the 2018 edition of the Asian Games, Raina aims to change the color of the medal this time around.
"Personally I feel that playing ITF and playing the (Asian) Games is very different. Having played Asian Games in 2014 and 2018, I have a bit more experience. I will try to change the colour of the medal."
Ankita Raina calls for a change in mindset of Indian tennis players
Ankita Raina feels that for India to grow in tennis, the juniors need to have a strong mindset and not be disheartened by failure.
"We need a slight change in the mindset. There are a lot of juniors coming and doing well at the slams. During the transition is where they are not in the sport anymore. There can be various factors to it - obviously finance is a big thing. The other thing is the ability to take failure. Tennis and sports - you are not going to make it overnight."
Raina recounted her own experience, where the transition from a junior level to a senior level was tedious for her and how it took her a while to get going in international tournaments.
"I remember from my experience the transition period was very tough. I did well in the juniors - I won National Championship at the age of 16 - the grass court Nationals. But it took a while to start performing in the international level. I remember we had ITF 10K events - there were a couple of tournaments in India. I had the opportunity to play a couple of them back-to-back and get the experience on the ITF circuit, get that exposure."
As advice for the younger generation of tennis players, Raina wants them to enjoy the sport firstly, while also learning how to deal with failures, as, in every tournament, all players begin from scratch.
"You need to enjoy the sport and focus on the process and have to learn to take failures. You can win a grand slam today but from the next tournament, you have to start from Round 1"
Ankita Raina will be seen in action at the Asian Games 2023 as she looks to bring home a medal in lawn tennis after being selected for the squad earlier this year.