For Jafreen Shaikh, the hearing-impaired tennis player from the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy, it was another feat which should spur her to dream bigger and work harder to leave an impact in the world of tennis.
The India No. 1 in her category, Jafreen, won the singles gold in the just-concluded National Games for the Deaf tennis competition in Chennai which also meant she has qualified for the Deaf Olympics to be held in Turkey in July this year. The other girl from India who made it to the same games is from Uttar Pradesh.
This young achiever’s creditable performances include gold in the Slovenia World Deaf Championship in doubles partnering Parul Gupta of Punjab and silver in singles last year.
Passion for tennis
It is the passion for the sport which made her father , an advocate by profession, to shift his base from Kurnool to Hyderabad and let his daughter pursue tennis. And, when struggling to find ways to meet her minimum needs, six-time Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza not only roped Jafreen into her Academy but also has been a huge source of inspiration to her. The 20-year-old Jafreen, who was the captain of the Indian team that took part in the world championship for the hearing-impaired, had to pull out in the past for want of financial support.
Destiny was really cruel to Jafreen as she also had to miss out the huge opportunity of playing the 2012 London Paralympics for which she qualified but could not make it because of financial crunch.
Significantly, Jafreen will be flying to China after completing her Degree second year exams this month-end for an intensive, two-month training programme under the tutelage of Croatian Domogog Juric. In fact, she was with him early this year for a few weeks of focussed training. “Yes, the goal is to win gold in the Deaf Olympics and I am determined to make it and I must thank all the coaches and the SMTA for their wonderful support over the years,” says a grateful Jafreen.