Bengaluru: It’s all starting to come together for Suhitha Maruri. The 13-year-old found her biggest lesson and inspiration a month ago when she was chosen as one among the six players — three boys and three girls — to take part in the Asian Division I U-14 development tennis event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“It was a good experience,” she says of the experience. “I could have performed better, I was really nervous. But playing there has motivated me. I know if I try hard I can do it. I felt proud there, I want to chase that feeling.”
It was yet another step up for Suhitha in terms of progress. Having started at the age of six — driven into the sport by her mother Harika who looked up to Steffi Graf and Monica Seles — it was her move to Zeeshan Ali Tennis Academy three years ago that changed the trajectory of her tennis. Suhitha, daughter of Infosys employee Koti Reddy Maruri, starts her training with a two-and-a-half hour session in the morning and follows that up with a two-hour session in the evening and another hour of fitness work.
In between she attends her tutions, her school — Lakeview Public School, Sarjapur Road — has been very supportive.
It took time for the work to reach fruition. A quarterfinal run in the Fenesta Open U-14 category in October last year was her breakthrough.
“When she first came, we found there were technical issues which takes time to correct,” said former Davis Cupper Zeeshan. “It’s muscle memory and to get a young player out of it takes time. She had also started to play tournaments so to make changes to her game, we needed time.”
Suhitha, ranked India’s fourth-best U-14 player, has followed it up with a win, a runner-up finish and a semifinal run in national level competitions and one title from three ATF tournaments, the last two in Uzbekistan.
She’s also enjoyed a reasonably productive doubles run, mostly playing with her elder sister Reshma. “She has come back from there (Uzbekistan) realising that there are many girls her age working hard across the world. It’s only served as a motivation,” reveals Zeeshan.
“She has a lot of potential, she is hard-working and a pleasure to coach. There are still a lot of improvements to be done. Movement, strength, combining her matches and practice the correct way,” Zeeshan signed off adding that we’ll be hearing a lot more of Suhitha in the coming years.