Against All Odds

After representing India and winning various International Deaf Tennis Championships, Hyderabad-based Shaik Jafreen is now prepping up for her next big assignment — the Deaf Olympics — to be held in Turkey in July.

The 18-year-old is currently undergoing rigorous training under renowned Croatian coach, Domagoj Juric in China.

Shaik Jafreen with her Croatian coach, Domagoj Juric.

“I started playing tennis when I was only 7, and it has been my passion since. I took professional coaching and played at various state level tournaments,” explains the young achiever, on how she picked up the sport.

But tennis is an expensive game, right? “Yes. My dad asked me to stop playing because the rackets and tournament fees were very expensive and he couldn’t afford it. I felt very dejected. But sensing my love for the game, he sold off his house  in Bangalore to fund my training. Impressed by my game, Sania Mirza offered free coaching at her tennis academy, and even donated 5 lakhs,” recalls Jafreen.

Jafreen’s father, who has played an important role in his daughter’s career, talks about the tough times that the family faced. “For the last four years, I gave up my practice because I have to be with her all the time. I even borrowed money from friends to meet the expenses. But, I am proud of her because she has won more than 50 medals in various International tournaments, and all these victories have spurred her to dream big and work harder.

Unfortunately, nobody is coming forward to sponsor her. I am tired of running behind the government for help. My dream is to see my daughter win a gold for India at the Olympics," he says.

The hearing-impaired National tennis champion, who shifted from Kurnool to the city, is now hoping to make it big. “I am determined to win gold in the coming Olympics and am currently undergoing intensive training in China under famous Croatian coach, Domagoj Juric. I practise for four to five hours daily and am very focused. My father always raised me as a normal child. He disposed off his properties and sacrificed everything to keep me on top of my game. Now I want to win the medal and make him proud,” says a determined Jafreen. 

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