At 34, I am still hungry, says Divij Sharan - The Daily Guardian
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At 34, I am still hungry, says Divij Sharan

Davis Cup player Divij Sharan talks to The Daily Guardian on his feelings after being nominated for the Arjuna Award, his sporting journey so far, and his future plans.

Hemanshu Chaturvedi

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Ace tennis player Divij Sharan.

It was in Prague that Indian Davis Cup player Divij Sharan received the pleasant news of being nominated for the 2020 Arjuna Award for tennis. I have known Divij since the age of 12 and his nomination gave me personal pleasure as I have always admired him as a very talented player of the country. Currently, Divij is in New York preparing for the US Open Championship and he spoke to The Daily Guardian from there. Excerpts:

 Q. How exciting was it for you to hear about the nomination for the prestigious Arjuna Award?

A. I was travelling abroad and was in Prague when I started to get messages from friends and family. In fact, I would have received the award last year but I had missed the deadline by a day to file my papers. It would be an honour to receive the most prestigious award for a sportsperson.

 Q. How were your initial years of playing tennis? Tell us something about your introduction to the tennis court.

 A. I was always an athletic boy, participating in various sports very early in my childhood. When I was in Class 3 in Modern School, Vasant Vihar, a tennis academy was opened at the school. My father took me to the academy to play after school. My coach in the academy, Rajendar Jaiswal, saw talent in me and asked me to join the weekend advance programme, and the rest is history.

Q. From a very early age, you have been playing at a very high level. Can you throw some light on that?

A. At the age of 12 and 13, I played for Delhi, and at the age of 14, I was part of the Junior Davis Cup team. My journey has been constant and I have achieved at various levels.

Q. Every player has the support and understanding of their family. How good was the support from your family?

 A. As a junior player, my mother, Anju Sharan, travelled with me locally as well as outside Delhi, taking very good care of me. Although my younger brother, Anuj, was left alone many times, our joint family structure allowed my mother to travel extensively. My father, Madhav Sharan, is a renowned HR professional working for an MNC. His support for me has been my backbone. My brother, Anuj, is my best friend and he has always supported me in all my lows and highs too.

Q. What was the turning point of your career?

A. My three consecutive finals in DSCL Championship was the turning point of my career, which gave my family the confidence that I can make it big. I was lucky to be selected by the AITA Junior Programme to travel in Europe and participate in the Grand Slam Championship. By then I was ranked #5 in the world of Junior Doubles. My second turning point was at SRCC, where after many years we had won the inter-college event in DU. My physical education director, Mallik, had called my father and advised him to pull me out of college as attendance was compulsory and my being in the college would have been a stumbling block for my future in tennis. My father took the advice seriously, and after my first-year exam, he pulled me out of college and told me to focus totally on tennis.

 Q. Did you get any corporate support in your struggling days?

 A. Yes, I can’t thank Indian Oil enough for giving me unstinted support during my tough time. I am still working with them. In 2008, Indian Oil inducted me on scholarship and assured me that once I am a graduate, they will absorb me in their regular roles. I used to take a few months off from my circuit and come back and study for my graduation exam from the open university.

 Q. You are already 34, are you still hungry?

A. Yes, I am still very hungry. My highest rank has been 34 in Doubles Men and I would like to do better before hanging my boots. I feel I still have a few more years in me to play at the highest level.

Q. What message would you and your family like to share for upcoming players and their parents?

A. According to my father, you can choose to study in India and still be a worldclass player. My mother always says “persistency and consistency” are the keys to success. I personally feel that parents should not push their ideology and allow the child to balance the game and education. A basic qualification is a must for players.

The writer is a sports guru.

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