Mihika Yadav at the age of 17 years is one of India`s top tennis hopes in Indian women`s tennis. This Bombay Scottish school girl has the distinction of playing all the junior Grand Slams.
I caught up with her in a freewheeling chat where she opens her heart to her tennis journey so far.
Q: Thanks Mihika for your time. So how has been the journey so far? Is it tough being a tennis player?
Mihika Yadav: I feel I am blessed that I have been able to follow my heart and enjoy something that I love doing. I have to count my blessings for being able to do something I love and hope to continue enjoying the game as much as I do. I feel fortunate.
Q: I am sure you are a fortunate one. Now I am sure there is no harm to take it a few steps further with all the blessing around?
Mihika Yadav: I believe that if I enjoy my time on the court and train hard, success will follow.
Q: Absolutely. I still believe in the old saying of our parent that if you work hard rest will follow. How about working smart which I believe you are already doing?
Mihika Yadav: True that. However, I am not that kind of a person who would really allow it to bother me too much. Life is too precious and short to be too bothered about something that you do not have control on. I will keep on working on my tennis and will see where it takes me.
Q: When I said working smart I meant choosing the right training methods and right tournaments and things like that. Giving due respect to our coaches I guess our training methods are still ages behind the European and US training methods. So much has evolved over the years.
Mihika Yadav: There are no right tournaments. If you succeed they become right. As for training goes all the four of us juniors who made the Grand Slams were trained in India. That speaks a lot.
Q: In fact, kudos to our coaches for giving in their best against all odds.
Mihika Yadav: Also, genetically Europeans are genetically blessed. Not much you can do about the genes.
Q: I guess the new generation of Indian players are confident and is not scared of the any player on the other side of the net. A typical example is Ramkumar Ramanathan who no matter what is never short on confidence.
Mihika Yadav: For me I love my time on the court. I only hope I remain injury free to continue to do so. The rest only time will tell. I do not stress about things that are not in my control.
Q: I understand being injury free is so important. Typical case is Yuki Bhambri whose progress has been severely halted by so many injuries. I like your philosophy and attitude.
Mihika Yadav: I am just telling you what I feel. I did not mean to sound philosophical.
Q: When I said philosophical I did not mean it as an impractical way. I know the word philosophy is often a misunderstood one.
Mihika Yadav: Yes absolutely. Seeing the world and making so many new friends the world over and doing what I love….well I cannot ask for more.
Q: So, what are your next moves? Planning more of ITF women`s tour now
Mihika Yadav: Currently will Enjoy Diwali at home after a long time to start with and then look to play the Women`s ITF circuit at home if I qualify before I hit the road again. No more juniors from here on.
Q: Best is you have age on your side. Also, we have to accept the fact that Indian players mature a bit late.
Mihika Yadav: I do not go into all that. There is always a first time in everything.
Q: What about your personal target. Say maybe in terms of ranking to be achieved by end of next year.
Mihika Yadav: Well I never set target.
Q: But honestly does it not help? I mean you have set your goals and you work towards it. It is kind of a motivation for you to push yourself for better.
Mihika Yadav: I do not know because we have never done that. I was ranked 284 in the ranking last March due to injury and never thought I would live my dream of playing all the slams but reached 31 on the ranking and played all of them in a year`s time. I work the same way and do not enjoy putting myself in any pressure situation. I love playing freely.
Q: I know it is often difficult being down with injury and all that. But assuming you are injury free and you set a target for yourself.
Mihika Yadav: No not for me
Q: I mean for example when I drive my car I know my destination and I drive without thinking that I will meet with an accident.
Mihika Yadav: OMG! I do not think so much. I play the sport out of choice. Just play and enjoy. Want it to be a pleasure always. Never meant to chase laurels.
Q: Sorry the interviewer is giving you advice. He is only supposed to listen, right? (as I 😊)
Mihika Yadav: Used to it. Everyone has a piece of advice. Its free no? (she 😊s). Not everyone knows what I like doing.
Q: Meaning you do not have any personal dream like reaching the top 100 in the women`s circuit and all that?
Mihika Yadav: Off course I would live for that. But I do not want to put any kind of pressure on myself. It takes away the fun. I work hard and success has to follow as it has done so far. So why do anything different?
Q: Talking about free advice I quickly remember my uncle once asking me “ beta..why is that you do not join IIT”…As if IIT is my family property (as I 😊).
Mihika Yadav: Hahaaaa. So now you know, right?
Q: You seem to be a very chilled out person. Are you the same on the court too? When you miss an easy volley you curse or you just move on?
Mihika Yadav: Yes, I manage even when things are not working out. Curse…That is harsh…Don`t need to do that.
Q: So no emotions on court like Serena Williams?
Mihika Yadav: Very rarely a come on. I do not scream or rant on court.
Q: So, you are more of a Chris Evert then a Serena Williams?
Mihika Yadav: I am Mihika. But love Sharapova but want to be Mihika. I love Sharapova as she is aggressive and plays fearlessly too. She is pretty too. Also love Serena for all her ability to have stood so strong amidst all adversities and given her detractors a fitting reply.
Q: Well you are a pretty tennis player too. Honestly, I feel Serena never has too many detractors. I mean she was always good and had only a few enemies.
Mihika Yadav: No. She surely had a lot of people against her. People have called her a man on her face. She was brought up in Bronx. Not a normal childhood.
Q: Sure. Good to know that you are enjoying your life in tennis. Also, do you have a personal coach travelling with you?
Mihika Yadav: Yes I am enjoying. My Mum travels with me.
Mihika Yadav: Hey I am damn hungry now. Getting hungry and going for lunch.
Q: Hey sure I know a sportswoman`s tummy needs proper care. So, since we are taking of lunch what is your daily diet?
Mihika Yadav: Mum`s department. I have to leave some work to her (she smiles jokingly). She enjoys surprising me at the table with healthy but otherwise monotonous meals exciting.
So, have to say bye for now. But it was so much fun catching up with you.
ME: Bye and it was such a great time catching up with you. All the best and keep enjoying on and off the court.