Nagaland: In pursuit of tennis excellence, Lenien Jamir serves another ace
Poster-girl for tennis in Nagaland, Lenien receives full-time athletic scholarship from Monmouth University, New Jersey in the US
Dimapur, Dec. 19 (EMN): Although limited to urban areas, lawn tennis of late has been enjoying a considerable following across India, and is counted among the popular sports in the country.
India has over the years produced several internationally acclaimed tennis players though individual sports are often considered less interesting than team sports, where a lot of adrenaline is involved.
Despite its limitation to the urban landscape, the popularity of tennis as a spectator sport in India is quite high and has been propelled further by the advent of satellite television.
The All Assam Tennis Association (AATA) in Guwahati is amongst the premier state associations in the region with state-of-the-art tennis courts and other facilities. It runs regular training sessions and players from other states like Arunachal, Manipur and Nagaland often train at the facility.
Amongst such players is Lenien Jamir from Nagaland, who has been training at AATA since she was little and has now been offered a full-time athletic scholarship by the women’s tennis team of Monmouth University, New Jersey in the United States.
Jamir will be the first-ever tennis player from Nagaland to join a US university to play in the US collegiate tennis circuit. She has played and won numerous championships in national and international-ranked tournaments across India as well as other Asian and African nations.
Speaking to Eastern Mirror, Jamir shared that she had started playing tennis when she was six after her mother asked her to pick a sport to play.
“I started swimming at first then shifted to taekwondo and then ended with tennis,” said Jamir, adding that initially she didn’t enjoy it much but started liking the sport gradually.
Growing up with tennis, she said, was quite a challenge due to the hectic schedule of balancing school and tennis. “The most challenging thing was not having a social life; I couldn’t have a normal school life as it used to get very tiring and hectic juggling both tennis and school,” said Jamir.
The 19-year-old is now all set to play tennis for Monmouth University where, because of her academic excellence too, she was given an academic scholarship and has been admitted as an under-graduate student majoring in International Relations for the next four years in the university’s honours college.
“I will be a student athlete at the college which means that I’ll be a full-time student plus a full-time athlete there; I have to balance it out,” said Jamir and added that right now she is giving her first semester exams online.
She informed that she was supposed to leave for the United States in August but it has been postponed to January 2021 due to the pandemic.
Speaking about tennis in Nagaland, Jamir felt that there aren’t many opportunities for people to take up the sport as a professional. “There was a Nagaland team that used to come and play in Assam but I guess because of the inadequate infrastructure for the sport they couldn’t take it further,” said Jamir.
“Tennis has given me a lot and especially this opportunity to go pro; it isn’t easy and comes with a lot of sacrifices but it has opened a lot of doors as of now,” shared Jamir.
She attributed her success to the support and encouragement of her parents and also of her former school, Faculty High School which always accommodated her schedules, thus helping her manage her studies.
“My schedules were crazy and very tight but everyone was accommodating and understanding and I am lucky to have had them through the years,” said Jamir.
Jamir made special reference to her coach Bedanta Buragohain, who has been her constant support since she started playing under-12 tournaments.
She credited her success on court to his coaching and commitment since she was six years old. Having trained at a number of national academies, Jamir said that coach Buragohain along with coach Rupam Boro gave her the kind of training that could equal the best academies in India.
She also acknowledged all her other coaches and other technical staff of the AATA headed by Ankush Dutta.