Dubai: For most, 13 could mean unlucky. But not for Dubai-based teen Garv Bahl, who will possibly go down in history for being the only boy from the UAE so far to win a tournament on the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors.
Fellow Indian Rikeetha Pereira — currently a sports management major and business administration minor at the University of Southern Mississippi — was the first-ever player to win an ITF juniors tournament a few years back.
But at the end of April this year, 14-year-old Bahl — a student at FuturePro Tennis Academy — went on to replicate this feat while beating Hong Kong’s Kyle Tang 6-1, 6-4 and clinch the boy’s title at the J5 Amman Open in Jordan.
Besides the accolades that have come along, that win has also given the Indian youngster, who trains under former Tunisian Davis Cup player Essam Jallali, an adequate number of reasons to dream on about his tennis.
“I’ve always wanted to win a tennis tournament on the international stage, and that has been achieved. Now I want to concentrate on my career as a tennis player and ultimately turn professional so that I can win a few Grand Slams as well,” Bahl told Gulf News.
“I may sound a bit mean when I make the above statement. But I believe I can, and time alone will be my judge.”
Following in the footsteps of older brother Dhruv — four years his senior and now studying in Canada — it took young Garv exactly 13 tournaments to land his first major crown. His debut was at the ITF Nairobi Junior Open in July last year, and now less than a year later, the Grade IX student from Kings School, Al Barsha is at the cusp of doing even greater things on court.
“The tournament in Amman was a huge learning curve for me. In the semi-final, I was up against the top seed from Turkey [Mohammad Kaan Erel]. Both sets went into a tie-break, and I just hung in there convincing myself that I could win against all odds,” Bahl said.
That lone title helped Bahl scale a career-high No. 775 on the ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Rankings at the end of April. But this is not something that is acceptable to him. “I work and train hard five times a week. I don’t compromise when it comes to my tennis. I put in the hard work, and with the guidance of my coach I have come so far,” Bahl said.
“I believe, and so does my coach, that it is possible to have top-class players coming out of the UAE. We have all the facilities here, and all we need is hard work and commitment. I have just proved that such a thing is possible.
“The Amman tournament will always be my first major tennis step. I know I have a long, long way to go yet. That includes winning more tournaments on the ITF circuit, switch on to Futures and then ultimately move into the ATP. If at all this win has given me anything, then it is a greater desire to work even harder and push myself towards higher goals.
“And nothing would give me greater joy than allowing my parents, friends and loved ones to watch my games on television.”
Name: Garv Bahl
Date of Birth: November 17, 2004
Started playing tennis: Age 5
Education: Grade IX student at Kings School, Al Barsha
Tennis: FuturePro Tennis Academy
Career Highlight: Became first boy from the UAE to win an ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors