India’s number one tennis player, Sumit Nagal, is struggling financially despite having a sustenance budget of Rs 1 crore to compete on the ATP tour. After exhausting his budget, Nagal is left with less than Rs 1 lakh in his bank account, as per a PTI report.
The 25-year-old has invested all his prize money, salary from IOCL, and support from Maha Tennis Foundation to continue playing tennis professionally. Most of the funds have been used for training and travel costs with his coach and physio.
Financial Constraints Limit Training and Competitiveness
Due to lack of finances, Nagal could not train at his preferred German academy in the initial months of 2023. Though his friends helped him stay fit during that period, inadequate training has impacted his performance and competitiveness.
Despite being country’s top player, Nagal feels he has not received enough support from authorities. He remains the only Indian to qualify for Grand Slams and win an Olympic tennis match in recent years, yet his name is not included in the TOPS scheme.
Breaking Even Financially But Future Uncertain
Nagal revealed he has nothing in his savings and is just breaking even financially. With no sponsors and low prize money, his future seems uncertain if the funding issue is not addressed.
The player expressed disappointment over the lack of belief in him after his ranking dropped due to injury. Securing aid has been extremely difficult, leading to a feeling of dejection.
Systemic Issues Plague Indian Tennis
Commenting on the broader challenges, Nagal highlighted the lack of funding and guidance holding back Indian tennis. Despite abundant talent, outcomes are far below par due to an ineffective system.
Structural reforms are needed to build a robust pathway for nurturing talent. Providing the right support at different stages could unlock the country’s tennis potential and produce champions. Nagal remains hopeful of achieving bigger success if his fitness is sustained and he gets to play more tournaments regularly.