New Delhi : Delhi boy Sumit Nagal on Sunday etched his name in the history books by winning the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title with Vietnam’s Ly Hoang Nam at the famous All England Club.
Suddenly from obscurity, the 17-year-old became the talk of the town, being mentioned on front pages of national dailies. The right-handed tennis player scripted history when he and Ly, seeded eighth, defeated American-Japanese fourth seeds Reilly Opelka and Akira Santillan 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final in an hour and three minutes on No.1 Court.
Sumit had also entered the boys’ singles competition. However, he was ousted from the first round, losing to Argentinean Juan Pablo Ficovich in three sets.
The teenager was born on August 14, 1997, in Haryana’s Jaitpur before moving to Nangloi in the national capital. His father, Suresh, is a retired Army Havildar, his mother Krishna a housewife while his sister Sakshi Shokeen is married.
Since there was no live television broadcast of the final, the family was following the scores on internet.
“Towards the end, the net stopped working when Sumit was 5-4 up. I was wondering why is it taking so long to update. I was nervous about the score and after two minutes there was a tick against his name, I understood he has won. Everyone was elated and we were all hugging each other and we were flooded in the night by media calls,” said Sakshi.
“We spoke to him last night and he shared photos with us. We are very, very happy. At every point when there was a deuce, it was nerve-wracking because Sumit’s fate has stumbled on deuces and winning on deuce has been difficult for him.”
Now a school teacher, Suresh credited one of the legends of the sport, Mahesh Bhupathi, for the rise of his son.
“Sumit has been playing for seven years but two years into it he started training under Bhupathi. Until Bhupathi was in the picture, there would be issues getting sponsorship. I am a tennis fan, I used to watch it and Sumit was very active so I decided to introduce him to this sport,” Suresh recalled.
“Sumit is a (Novak) Djokovic fan and Djokovic also won this Grand Slam. So I dream that he also achieves this (men’s singles title). We want him to become World No.1 one day.”
Sumit got his moment with destiny as he caught up with his idol Djokovic of Serbia, and posted a photograph of the two posing together on Twitter. He also met the latest women’s singles champion Serena Williams.
Krishna, on the other hand, said she misses her son and at times does not even get to talk to him for weeks as Sumit is away playing.
“I miss my son. We don’t get to meet him, we don’t even get to talk to him at times. I want to meet him but how can we accompany him. Tomorrow when he becomes a big player we will be with him,” said Krishna with Suresh adding that “to send a 10-year-old away is heartbreaking”.
Recalling her struggle, Krishna said she would accompany Sumit in buses to training sessions. They would walk nearly 1.5 km to the nearest bus stop. “I also took him for his first trial. He was only 10 when he moved away. I couldn’t talk to him for a month.”
She added that she is “superstitious so I don’t watch his matches. I would just ask for the score. My hands and feet get numb due to nervousness”.
Sumit’s birthday is next month but the occasion to celebrate has arrived a month early. There is a trophy-cabinet at his home full of prizes he has won — it is now waiting for the big one.