Playing three back-to-back tournaments in Sri Lanka in March this year, the polio-stricken player has made steady progress as she entered the semifinals of two events. In the third, a round-robin event, Madhu won one and lost two games. Her outings in the Emerald Island, however, helped her get onboard international rankings.
In the Sri Lankan Open, Madhu went past local girl Umesha Alahakoom 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to make it to her maiden semifinals. However, she lost to world no. 40 Thondalwethu Hlatswayo of South Africa 6-0, 6-1. That semis appearance gave her the first international ranking of 138.
Next up for the 39-year-old was SSC Open where she went down to Sarah Calati of Australia, the eventual winner of the tournament, 6-0, 6-1 in the semis.
The last meet was Negombo Open, where she lost to Thondalwethu (6-0, 6-0) and Anosha Amaratunge of Sri Lanka (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) before managing a solitary win against Umesha 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3.
After the three meets, she is now 116th in the world rankings and remains the solo Indian in the long list comprising over 250 players.
Delighted with her performance, Madhu is confident that more international tournaments will take her closer to her immediate target of getting inside the top 100. "The Aussies and South Africans play around 15 events a year compared to three to five for me. More exposure will ensure better ranking in the coming days," she said.
The upward graph in Madhu's international rankings has put a wide smile on her coach Pramesh Modi's face. Modi, who has been training her since May 2013, said it was a remarkable achievement especially for a women wheelchair tennis player who gets little support in this country.
"All these tournaments will help her go a long way. If she works harder and plays smarter tennis with better wheelchair movement during the game, she can keep improving her rankings," said Modi.
Source : TOI , 14th April 2014