Sunday, July 4, 2021



( Ankita with Hemant Bendre ,her coach )
 ( Ankita with her coach Hemant Bendre )
                      ( Ankita  in action )

  ( With her mother. Seeking blessings )
                      ( With her mother )

                      ( With Sania Mirza )
                  ( With her father )
                ( With her parents )


She belongs to a family uprooted from Tral ( Pulwama, Kashmir  ) in 1990 . Her father , who works as a senior officer in a pharmaceutical company , moved to Gujrat where she was born in 1993 .  Ravi Krishen Raina and Lalita Ji ( her parents ), decided to entrust her training to Hemant Bendre her coach who changed this shy and slim little girl into an International Tennis player with a style and power that matches Sania Mirza and  Greet Minnen of Germany. She has played many international matches and finally landed at the prestigious Wimbledon.


 ( Ankita recieving Arjuna Award in 2021 from President of India )
I am reminded of how Bendres of Maharashtra have always been helpful to  people from J&K .  About another Bendre  ( N. S. Bendre , the renowned Baroda artist  ) ,noted painter G. R. Santosh used to say “ Hamaare  Guru mile Brahmgyaani “ . Not G. R. Santosh  ,  N. S. Bendre trained  and helped  every student from J&K who went to Baroda to learn art. Bendre had lived in Kashmir for three years during the rule of Maharaja  Hari Singh and worked as artist cum photographer .
Coming to Ankita I would add that losing or winning is a separate issue , reaching  Wimbledon is a proud achievement for this little girl with a very  humble background . She has made her country , every  Indian  and her family feel proud . Every person from J&K  too  feels happy and proud of her achievements .Add to that , apart from Hindi ,Gujrati and English , Ankita speaks her mother tongue fluently .She is employed with  ONGC .

As a  five-year-old girl , she was fascinated by athe racquet that was almost equivalent to her  height.  And what started as a  casual hobby, turned  into a passion. She made this passion her life's  dream.  To realise this dream , she moved from Ahmedabad to Pune where  she  started her training under Hemant Bendre at the PYC Gymkhana .

About Ankita's dedication, her coach Hemant Bendre says this:-

" What was special about Ankita was that even as a young tee,n the motivation, and will to play was entirely hers. She didn’t, like most others of her age, have a pushy parent behind her. And that showed in her dedication. She was willing to train as long as you’d ask her to and work as hard as you’d wanted her to and often even more. It made it very easy for me to coach her. Her only wish was to play a Grand Slam someday. Every day she would tirelessly ask me when it would happen. Every year she would work towards just that one goal, of qualifying for a Grand Slam, and every year she would fall short. But she never gave up. I’m so happy that finally, she’s going to live her biggest dream."

About his Kashmir roots , Ankita's father says this :-

"Our family belongs to Pinglish  village  in Tral and  we migrated to Gujarat in 1990. A couple of years back, I along with my mother visited our native village. Although our children have not visited Kashmir, we have protected our culture and ethos." 

The 28-year-old Ankita has been playing well on the circuit — won the 2018 Asian Games bronze and has had impressive wins in the Fed Cup, like beating Nao Hibino of Japan in 2016 and Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in 2018.

In January 2019, Ankita  played  against Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands,  and won 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the $25,000 ITF Women’s Tennis Tournament played in  Singapore.

The budding player competed in just 11 competitions outside the country in the whole of 2013 due to financial constraints. But thanks to the then Gujrat CM's  ( Sri  Narendra  Modi'  ) intervention, she could   travel for every major  tournament abroad . Within a month of her meeting with the then CM, she  got a cheque of Rs 5 lakh and all her  travel expenses were taken care of. Her coach , Hemant Bendre had taken her to the then Gujrat CM.  Sri Narendra Modi ordered that she be immediately made beneficiary of the Shaktidhoot Yojna, a scheme floated by the Gujrat government .  Under the scheme, she received financial support of 15 Lakhs that made her free of her travel worries. 
"His reassurance to me was 'you play, we will take care of the rest'," Ankita recollected in a recent interview with PTI.

In the Women’s Doubles at Wimbledon ,   Ankita paired up with American tennis star Lauren Davis while Sania  paired up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands . 

The 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist, Ankita Raina, by earning a ticket to the upcoming Games in Japan has become the first woman from the western state of Gujarat - a tennis player at that, to qualify for her maiden Olympic Games.

 “Naye daur ke naye khwaab hain
Naye mausamon ke ghulab hain
Yeh  mohabbaton  ke chiraag hain 
Inhein  nafraton ki  hawa na dhe"

( Avtar Mota )

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