A young Prarthana Thombare first picked up a tennis racket after watching her grandfather play. While her passion for tennis began as a hobby, she turned out to be very, very good at it. That's when she decided to take up the sport full-time. Prarthana hails from a Barshi, a village 70 kilometres Solapur in Maharashtra, where no one had even heard about the game of tennis.

 

 A determined Prarthana had to travel to Solapur to train. Since there was just one court, she waited for hours until she got her turn. The rough initiation to the game toughened her for life as a pro tennis player.

 

Once her potential was spotted, she shifted base to Hyderabad--the city of her tennis idol Sania Mirza. 

 

She has been training at the Hyderabad-based Sania Mirza Academy under the tutelage of Imran Mirza. In a recent interview before she left for Rio, Prarthana claimed that Sania's father had been a huge influence on her career. With Imran's help, Prarthana said her game had acquired an aggressive edge. Her forehand and volleying had improved as well. 

 

Prarthana is all set to partner her idol in the doubles event at the Rio Olympics. She learnt about her inclusion in the team for Rio through congratulatory text messages from friends since she was on a flight when the announcement came. While Sania has more than a decade's experience in the international circuit, Prarthana is still pretty inexperienced. However, that did not come the way the pair winning the bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014. 

 

Prarthana and Mirza will be seen in action in Round 1 of the doubles event in Rio on August 6.