Bhubaneswar: Debasis Sahoo, a 13-year-old boy from Lahada village in Dhenkanal district, has become the first Odisha-born tennis player to have made it to the qualifying round of U-14 Wimbledon Tennis Challenge to be played in Kolkata this March.
Supported by Slazenger, ‘The Road to Wimbledon U-14 Challenge’ is a unique competition. It provides a platform to U-14 players to showcase their talent and inch a bit closer to Wimbledon. The winners, both male and female, of the challenge from each country will be invited to play at the Wimbledon National Finals, scheduled to be held on August 9 to 15.
Debasis was introduced to tennis by his father, Laxmeekanta Sahoo, in 2017. “I was addicted to playing games on computer and mobile phone. My parents weren’t happy with this. They forced me to take up tennis to take my mind off gadgets. Thus I joined the Elite Club in Patiala, Punjab.”
Following humiliation from fellow club players, the boy decided to come back to Odisha. He then joined Farhan Tennis Academy in Bhubaneswar.
In the past six months, Debasis has defeated more than eight national ranking players, who will also participate in the Road to Wimbledon Masters.
According to Debasis, the biggest challenge for him will be to play on a grass court at the upcoming tournament. “There are no such courts in Odisha. Thus, I am practising for more than six hours a day to be well prepared for the challenge. My coach is laying more emphasis on slice, drop and ball spins training,” he said.
In the initial years, Debasis was placed at the 80th spot in the national circuit. After intense training in Bhubaneswar, he now occupies the 11th rank. “He has been a quick learner. He has claimed eight titles in a very short span of time,” said his coach, Farhan Ali.