TENNIS star Cara Black is training at the Indian tennis facility in Hyderabad run by her doubles partner Sania Mirza’s doubles ahead of next month’s Australian Open.
The Zimbabwean, a 10-time Grand Slam winner, is out to redefine levels of sporting excellence for all those who are well past 30 in their life.
In the first few days of her training stint at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy (SMTA), Cara has exhibited some rare traits which suggest why she is such a champion doubles player.
The 34-year-old first surprised the Mirzas — Imran and Sania — by driving straight from the airport to the tennis courts on the day she arrived in India and had a two-hour long training session right away with the 19-year-old national player Byreddy Sai Saran Reddy.
Such things are never easy for someone her age, especially given the fact that this training stint also means that she has to stay away from her 19-month-old baby boy.
“It is really tough to be away from him. But, well, this is a demanding circuit and you have to be at your best right through. There is absolutely no scope to be complacent. And for me there is no better feeling than winning a Grand Slam title,” she said in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.
But hasn’t she won 10 Grand Slam titles? “Oh! I realised what I missed while being away from tennis when I had to take a break to be blessed with the kid. It was difficult to think of life without tennis,” says Cara with a big smile.
This Zimbabwean gently traces her early journey in the world of tennis, touching on the troubled times back home. “Yes, there were hard times then,” she muses.
“But that is the greatness of sport that it keeps you away from those things and helps you focus on what you love the most — in my case playing tennis.”
Every day since she arrived, Cara has become a sort of a phenomenon at the Academy for all those who are struggling to master the basics. Sania reminds us that she is terrific in volleys. And proof of this was too evident when the Zimbabwean trained for hours on the courts daily.
Why choose SMTA to train for two weeks? “Sania is an incredible player and I am very keen to win a Grand Slam with her.
“Exactly for this reason, we have decided to train together before the next month’s Australian Open. Not many doubles teams across the world can afford this sort of privilege,” says Cara even as she is amazed with the world-class facilities at the SMTA.Advertisement
“I enjoy training on these wonderful courts. More than anything else, the ambience and is terrific to train. I would love to keep coming back whenever it is possible,” says the biggest tennis star from abroad ever to visit the Academy.
The multiple Grand Slam winner’s training sessions, in terms of commitment and hard work, left the trainees at the SMTA, who are only half her age, realising how much effort was needed to be a champion player.
“It is amazing the amount of hard work she puts in despite being such a great player in Grand Slams. We have still a long way to go,” said one of the young talents, Abdullah.
On her partnership with Sania, Cara spontaneously says that the Indian is an unbelievable player and hits the ball so hard that some of the women players on the circuit are really scared of playing her.
“I have seen players really worried about taking on Sania in doubles. And my role is that of a cherry-picker,” she says with a big smile reflecting her modesty. The Sania-Cara pair won two WTA titles — Tokyo and the China Opens — in the space of 10 days in September.
Tokyo triumph … Cara and Sania after winning in Japan