Tennis
Priska Madelyn Nugroho (right) with her coach during Indonesia's Fed Cup campaign in Dubai earlier this year. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: Indonesian teenage tennis sensation Priska Madelyn Nugroho has praised the efforts of ‘legendary’ Sania Mirza, while admitting that she herself has a full lifetime ahead to chase dreams.

Nugroho, the youngest nominee this year, was convinced that Mirza is a worthy winner of the ITF Heart Award that was announced by the world governing body for tennis earlier this week.

“Sania Mirza is such a legend in India and in the world of tennis and compared to her, I am nowhere. Honestly, for me it was the experience of just being a nominee alongside so many of our stars which mattered. I had kept an open mind as I knew that I was up against some of the greatest players of this generation,” Nugroho told Gulf News in an interview.

“My time will come for sure. I am just about starting off and somewhere along the line there will be even better and bigger opportunities perhaps to achieve the dreams that I have for myself,” the 16-year-old added.

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The Indonesian, who turns 17 later this month, first made an impact after combining with Filipina Alexandra Eala to win the girls’ doubles crown at the 2020 Australian Open in January. The lower-ranked pair got the better of Ziva Falkner and Matilda Mutavdzic 6-1, 6-2 to pick up their biggest title so far.

Two months later, Nugroho nearly helped Indonesia upset India on the final day of the Asia-Oceania Fed Cup held in Dubai in the first week of March.

“I’ve got a full lifetime of tennis before me,” Nugroho said, before adding: “I am just beginning my journey as a professional, and some day I will be in a position where I can achieve a lot of my dreams,” she added.

Indonesia had travelled to Dubai for the Fed Cup encounter in the opening week of March with just three players – Janice Tjen and fellow teenager Aldila Sutjiadi being the other two. However, that didn’t stop the Indonesians from fighting all the way till they were stopped by India on the final day in the doubles.

“I am just grateful that I can play this sport and give it all I have. The results will show in the long run. Right now, it’s all about putting in the hard work and chasing my dreams. The first one of these will be to be in the top-100 as soon as I can,” she insisted.

“I am still the first Indonesian to get a nomination for this award, and that is something that will remain. This nomination will give me a lot of encouragement and confidence for my future tennis goals,” Nugroho reflected.

Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova picked up the main ITF Heart Award for her stunning first-ever win over American legend and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, during their Fed Cup qualifiers in the US, in February. Mirza won the award for the Asia-Oceania region, while Fernanda Contrearas Gomez of Mexico and Anett Kontaveit of Estonia walked away with the awards for the Americas and Europe-Africa regions, respectively.