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A year of learning for talented Samir Banerjee | tennisnews

Indian-American is hoping that a stint in Stanford would help prepare him for life on the Pro Tour
The last 12 months didn’t pan to plan for Samir Banerjee, not after the 18-year-old’s spectacular splash at Wimbledon, where he won the junior boys’ crown. The Indian-American is learning quickly, though, that while life as a tennis pro may be ambiguous, certainty is the way forward.
All that Banerjee wanted for himself these last months was tournaments and more tournaments – Futures, Challengers and qualifiers for ATP Tour events. The odd wildcard along the way would’ve been nice. He knew where he stood among the boys and wanted to square up against the men.
A damaged cartilage on the right elbow reduced the teenager’s serve to an anodyne shot. The injury was misdiagnosed a couple of times, delaying his recovery process and limiting him to the sidelines for six months.
It’s a month now since he has been pain-free and Banerjee will begin his tournament schedule in Israel, where he’s playing $15,000 Futures events.
“It has been tough,” the teenager told TOI from Ra’anana, a city in Israel’s Central District. “I wanted to play a lot of pro events, but it kinda got side-tracked because of this injury.”
Banerjee’s success on the lawns of the All England Club last July, where he beat compatriot Victor Lilov in straight sets, echoed through the tennis world. Across the pond, in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, his parents Kunal and Usha and sister Divya joined in the celebration, until reality set in. The Banerjees, cerebral and academically inclined – their first-born is studying Statistics and Finance – now had a junior Grand Slam champion in their midst.
“The success scared us,” Kunal admitted. “This is unchartered territory for us. There are a few success stories in India, Leander (Paes) and before that the Krishnans – Ramanathan and Ramesh – and the Amritrajs, but it’s still really rare. We were scared because we didn’t know what is entailed.
“Samir was on track to go to College (Columbia),” Kuna l said. “The success threw up a lot of uncertainties. Everybody likes certainty and comfort in a space. That was taken away from us for a bit because we just didn’t know what to expect.” For the most part, the teenaged American’s is the typical Indian emigrant story. Kunal, a chemical engineer from Assam, is into finance and his wife de el Usha, from Andhra, works in the pharmaceutical industry. Their academic excellence leveraged a good life in the United States. The Banerjees then regrouped quickly, laying out options for their son.
“The last 12 months were a little disappointing for me, I wasn’t able to play as many tournaments as I would’ve wanted,” Samir said. “I wasn’t able to see where my level was. It was a bit of a let-down after Wimbledon. I didn’t have great expectations after Wimbledon, I just wanted to play a lot of tournaments and see how it went. ”
In the time he spent away from tennis, the teenager decided that Stanford University would be a better fit for him. He’ll head to California in September and hopes to spend a year prepping for life on the pro Tour.
“If I had done really well last year, I would’ve maybe re-thought the idea of ​​going to college,” Banerjee said. “But the injury just kind of put everything in perspective for me. It’s really tough and I don’t want to go all-in just yet. I know college is beneficial and it can really help me on and off the court.”
A few months after his success at Wimbledon last year, the 18-year-old was on an airplane to Turin for the ATP Tour Finals, where he got to train with the likes of 20-time major winner Novak Djokovic, French Open finalist Casper Ruud and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev.
“I really enjoyed hitting with Medvedev and Ruud,” the American said, underscoring that the Ruuds were ‘good people’. “Medvedev gave me a lot of good advice. He told me it’s a long journey and to keep at it. ‘It takes a little bit and you just need to get lucky a couple of times. Make sure you are consistent, and you are putting in the hard work’.”
The last 12 months for Banerjee have been about lessons and learnings.


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