Arjuna Award, Romance, 6-4… Tennis Player Saketh Myneni has got it all!
19th October 1987
Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
Brought up in Vizag in the 90s, Tennis player, Saketh Myneni always had a special bonding with the game. Recently conferred with the Arjuna Award, the player’s story is exciting. From winning a gold medal in Mixed Doubles with Sania Mirza to silver in Men’s Doubles with Sanam Singh in Asian Games - 2014, this pride of India has always been in the limelight. Though sports hold a major part of his life, he values people and relationships more. Saketh had formally proposed his long time girlfriend during the Davis Cup dinner! The TALL player (6’ 4”) seems to be just made for Tennis as his height exactly resembles the winning combination 6-4 of tennis!
Team imd1 discussed with him on Tennis, Davis Cup Dinner, credentials to reach the level Saketh has reached to and much more. Read on to know his story!
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
I have always loved to play sports as a kid. I started playing Tennis at the age of 11, in addition to other sports I was playing. Over a period of few years, I developed a special liking for Tennis. Competitive training began with coach PK Kishore in Vizag. After winning the under-14 and under-16 titles with a State Ranking, I finally decided to move to Hyderabad to get formally trained under Coach CV.Nagraj.
Favorite Tennis Player
Grandparents and Parents
Food I Love
I am a complete foodie, love to eat every cuisine
Food I Hate
Had I not been Tennis Player then...
Like Vacations at
Favorite Past time
Love watching movies and spending time with friends over dinners, movies and concerts
“Why so serious?”
Russell Crowe, Sandra Bullock
What’s your success mantra?
Loving and enjoying what you do as it keeps your brain engaged. Having fun and feeling joyous is extremely important. I am glad Tennis is fun, joy and love to me!
What were the hardships / hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
My journey didn’t have any specific hardships but something common you see for tennis players in India – Having to move to a bigger city due to lack of facilities in your hometown, home schooling as there are no good schools which give importance to sports, lack of financial support – Tennis being one of the most expensive sports, managing injuries. So, these are major risks and decisions you take at a young age.As a Tennis player, a hurdle that becomes common part of life is injuries. They could be minor or major but they have a deep negative impact on your mental morale. Moving on over these is possible only with the right physiotherapists and coaches who can motivate you, friends and family who are always there with you. I must mention here that a person like me is above average difficult to handle at the time of injuries. I respect these supporters who helped me through it.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
Failures will be just there. You can’t avoid them. However, you can surely choose to learn from them. At times when you fail, it is better to take a step backwards, reflect on what led to the failure and bounce back moving two steps forward. I am thankful to my teachers who instilled these value systems right from school days. Failure also deserves your respect; you can choose to learn from a failure and never repeat your share of mistakes.
Do you think Tennis and its learning’s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Definitely… Who doesn’t want a healthy lifestyle in today’s times! Physical fitness is an important takeaway from learning tennis. The game keeps you healthy and stress free. Irrespective of career choices, one must pursue sport to stay fit. Apart from physical fitness, sports also improve psychological, social and emotional aspects of child and youth development.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
Here, I have a long list! Right from my first coach in school to all the coaches and trainers in Hyderabad who helped me to identify, develop and continue with my passion for tennis. Further, my coaches at college and clubs have been strong influencers. On a personal front, I am thankful to my parents and grandparents. I am blessed to have so many influencers throughout my journey.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I Am The 1”?
My confidence for tennis kept on building up each day since I started and each moment in this journey has been special. Each tournament, each result helped me to develop a finesse. If I still have to choose the best out of these, I would prefer 2014 Asian Games which has stepped up my confidence.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
Yes, I did. I started with my first formal training at Hyderabad. I must mention here, that my college has been instrumental in training me on developing a sense of maturity and serious mindset for tennis. These factors make me what I am so far. Further, the real world of training is when you enter competitions. Experiences become the best teachers and you learn fine nuances of your game easily.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Tennis?
Certainly! Tennis has certain rules in context with fitness and they need to be followed consistently. To be disciplined and fundamental, you need to be open to different mindsets and methods. Various techniques and ideas of the western culture need to be adopted as you compete with global champions. Training helps you to stay prepared and focused for these parameters. Major problem most Indian players face is Injuries. This is because Sports physiotherapy – Rehab, Injury prevention workouts is neglected.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
I believe 5 - 6 years of age is ideal to start with any form of sport. Though, children can’t be put to playing tennis right away; understanding the basic rules of the game is very essential. Parents could allow the child to experiment with 3 - 4 sport forms and then make a long term decision. A child usually develops the maturity to make his own choice around 13 - 14 years of age. Develop the values and fundamentals and then make a final choice of sport.
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for Tennis?
Every person has his own style and preference. The kind of training one should get generally depends upon the learner’s comfort with the coach and the systematic methods of coaching. Just as the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’; similarly the guru needs to invest enough time and give personalized attention to the student to develop his spirit and the game.
What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for Tennis in India?
It has certainly developed a lot in the last 5 to 10 years. Yet, a lot is to be done. We"re still way behind…
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Tennis in remote parts of India?
For any sport to develop in India, grass root participation needs to be encouraged. For this, sport needs to be made a part of the school curriculum. Basic infrastructure and training local people as Physical Education teachers is important. Further regular camps and competitions need to be conducted. This could prove to be a strong base for setting an improvement path for Indian tennis. It will help each child and adult to explore their keenness towards the sport.
In your opinion, what are the basic key traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
The most important traits are confidence and discipline. Although, these are the toughest, if you are disciplined at everything and your journey gets smoother. Children tend to get distracted between activities and schedules. Time management is extremely important. You need to prioritize and strike a balance. Children need to put in a lot of hard work and be consistent towards the game.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Parents, Coach and the Child - all need to be a good team. If the child wants to choose tennis for his career, it demands high level of focus and discipline. Patience and perseverance is a must for both parents and child in sports. Parental pressure for ace results need to be away to keep the child focused on developing fundamentals. Before getting into the game, building physical fitness and stamina itself takes a lot of time.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
Well, I feel I could have taken interest in Athletics a little earlier, like around the age of 10. While I started at 14 which isn’t too late; yet I could have been a multi dimensional athlete from the early begin.
How can one identify and encourage talent in the family?
I would say experiment and experience are best teachers. It is important to allow the child to try different things, break free and find his / her own area of interest rather than imposing it on them. Childhood phase is to be in random activities which later shape up one’s confidence towards a serious passion.
We’ve heard a lot about your romantic proposal to your wife. Please tell us about it.
It was an instinct! I had never planned it, it just happened.