‘Grand Slam dreamer’ Prerana carries Nepal’s gold medal hopes in SAG
September 19, 2019 05:38 PM NPT
By: Sanjay Thapa
Nepal number one tennis player Prerana Koirala hits the ball at the Satdobato Tennis Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur in this recent file photo.
KATHMANDU, Sept 19:Nepal’s number one female tennis star Prerana Koirala aims to win a gold medal in the upcoming 13th edition of the South Asian Games (SAG) to be hosted by Nepal in December.
Her first hurdle is set to be the selection games starting on Thursday in Kathmandu. The 17-year-old recently came back after completing her three months training at International Sports Academy in Ahmedabad, India to participate in the selections which will run for 12 days.
Her family, especially her father Purushottam Koirala, has been supportive of her along her journey so far. Purushottam, despite not being financially very sound, is backing her daughter to play grand slam competition in future.
Prerna is confident to win the gold and make her country proud in the upcoming SAG. “I am excited to play in front of my home crowd. It is an ideal opportunity for us to win a gold medal. I am confident of my performance. India and Sri Lanka can be my main rival.” Background
Prerana’s father Purushottam has played a key role in her progress as a tennis player. Her family has been supporting her since the age of 11 when she took the sports for the first time. She was good in sports since the early age. She used to be a fast bowler for her Ideal School’s cricket team until Grade eight before turning her attention to tennis.
Her coach Raj Kumar Lama first took her to a tennis academy to introduce to the sports. “She started playing tennis at the age of 11 which is a few years late but she picked up quickly. I believe she can go the mile for Nepal in SAG.”
The Grade 12 student in Pentagon College, Prerana, is set to continue her training at Ahmedabad’s top Indian Tennis Training Center for a further three months after participating in the selection games. She is impressed by the facilities in India.
“Nepali coaches are good and training facilities here are very good. They have good track record of producing national tennis players. I aim to play the grand slam and it needs similar kind of trainings and preparations,” said Koirala in a conversation with Republica. Her family is paying for her trainings in India. She trains for three hours in the morning whereas concentrates on fitness in the evening.
“I get variety of opponents in India compared to same handful players in Nepal. That helps me sharpen my skills and learn something new every day.”
She has been training and learning tennis in different countries since last four years. She is set to feature in tournaments, representing her academy in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which can be ideal preparation before the SAG.
Her father expressed his sadness upon lack of positive response from the Ministry of Youth and Sports all this while.
Prerana has been unbeaten in domestic competition since May last year when she won the Sixth Citizens Bank Open Tennis Tournament held in Kathmandu. Since then, she has won five other tournaments including the Third Western Lalitpur District National Tennis Championship in September and the Second Butwal Lumbini Open National Tennis Competition, 11th Sahavir Memorial Open Tennis and the Eighth National Games. She continued her domination in seventh edition of Citizens Bank’s tournament as well.
She has been to countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to learn tennis whereas her father wants to send her to Europe for better training opportunities. He claims to have invested Rs 12.5 million so far on her trainings. In return, Prerna earns monthly Rs 15,000 under her contract with Armed Police Force Club.
“It costs almost Rs 160,000 per month to pay for her trainings and accommodations in India. I have been paying whatever I could but time will come when I will not be able to,” Purushottam told Republica.
“I know that Prerna’s success makes the whole Nepali sports fraternity proud but despite all the promises no one has come forward to help her financially. Neither has she got any sponsors so far.”