A small handful of players carried the weight of expectations in 2016 as it has always been for Indian tennis. The success stories of some and the disappointing failures of others have always left Indian fans in dilemma. For them it is always a tradeoff between savoring the achievements of this small group and lamenting over the poor performances by the other group.
This year was no different. Although there were many heart-breaking moments like the Olympic fiasco, there were a few moments that did leave us some pleasant memories.
In this article we will look at the top 5 players that can shine in 2017 and bring home some titles. Surprisingly there is only one player out of these five who has tasted success at the Grand Slam level. Take a look.
When was the last time an Indian tennis player was the world’s best player? When was the last time you saw a female tennis player from India produce such magic? Sania Mirza has been leading Indian tennis for past two years and there seems to be no stopping her.
As the likes of Leander Paes have struggled to attain the same success as they did a few years ago, Sania Mirza has stepped up to be the central icon of Indian tennis. She has been at the peak of her career in recent years and enjoyed the best success with Swis Miss Martina Hingis.
As Sania finished 2015 ranked number 1, the expectations were soaring high for the subsequent year. Sania was prepared for it. She kicked off the year in the best possible manner winning the Brisbane International, the Sydney International and the Australian Open. In the clay-court season, she bagged the Italian Open title
Mirza’s split did not stop her. She teamed up with Barbora Strycova to win the Cincinnati Masters. Next, Mirza teamed up with Monica Niculescu to bring home the Connecticut Open title. She will team up with Bethanie Mattek Sands in the first tournament of 2017 in Brisbane.
Sania registered an impressive season, one that she will be proud of. The fire has been rekindled and the confidence is at an all-time high for the Hyderabad native. She is preparing for the next year in full force and is definitely the biggest player for Indian fans to watch out for.
Ramkumar Ramanathan burst onto the Indian tennis scene back in 2014 when he defeated then India’s number 1 player Somdev Devvarman in the 1st round of Chennai Open. Ramanathan is now 22 years old and ranked 227 in singles and 237 in doubles. He has been placed as high as 196 in singles and 214 in doubles in the past.
Ramanathan is included in this list for some notable performances he produced this year that indicated the potential in this young athlete. His Davis Cup match against Feliciano Lopez was definitely one of his finest. Playing against a player ranked around 200 places above you is a monumental task.
Expecting Ramanathan to win that match might have been asking too much of him but the boy did not disappoint. He showed great character and mental toughness to win the third set after losing the first two. Even though Lopez would go on to win the match in four sets, Ramanathan had produced performance.
He is one of the best upcoming players India has and 2017 is a big year for Ramanathan as he looks to break into the top 150.
Saketh Myneni is currently the highest ranked singles player for India. He has in his kitty 9 ITF titles and 2 Challenger Singles titles.
The strong player will remember 2016 as the year in which he finally made it to the main draw of a major. In 2016, he successfully made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam at this year’s U.S. Open.
Myneni gave Indian fans a lot to cheer about in the 2016 season, teetering at the brink of defeating world number 49, Jiri Vesely in a fiercely competed match.
Having experienced what it feels like to be in a Grand Slam main draw, Saketh will look to build upon that. His 2017 campaign will be a treat to watch if he showcases the same hunger and desire to win as he did in the match against Vesely.
The 19-year-old-boy from Haryana gained recognition worldwide back in 2015. He won the coveted junior’s Wimbledon title in doubles category that year. However, talks about Sumit’s talent have been around for quite some time now.
His talent was recognized earlier on by legendary Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, who took the teen under his wing, becoming his mentor.
Sumit has been on a mission mode since then.
He ended 2016 with a ranking of 356 in singles, up from 421 last year, playing some of his finest tennis this year with the highlight being the match against Olympic gold medalist Marc Lopez in the Davis Cup. Sumit lost the first set 3-6 but produced a good baseline game to bag the second set much to the delight of Indian fans.
Although he would go on to lose the match 3-6 6-1 3-6, he proved he could hold his own against some of the best. At only 19, he has many years ahead of him to refine his game. He might well be the next big thing in Indian tennis.
Currently ranked 267 in singles, 23 year old Ankita Raina will be looking to set big goals for the following crucial years of her career. 2017 might as well be the breakthrough year for her. She has been finishing in top 300 for past 4 years and it is time that she takes a leap forward into the top 200.
In doubles, Ankita enjoyed the best season of her career as she rose to a career high ranking of 222 in November 2016. Coincidently Ankita has her best ranking in both singles and doubles as 222.
Ankita has won five singles and seven doubles ITF titles. She also secured the gold medal in singles and mixed doubles categories at the 2016 South Asian Games. 2017 promises to be a great year for the young lady if she is able to deliver at big stages.