Imphal (Agency): Jennifer Luikham, hailing from Ukhrul, Manipur, brings attention to the underrepresented landscape of tennis in northeast India. The Harven Pro Tennis League emerges as a pivotal platform for burgeoning talents like Jennifer, enabling them to vie among the country’s top players and gain invaluable exposure in the sport.
Initiating her tennis journey at a tender age of six, Jennifer attributes her entry into the sport to her mother’s encouragement. Growing up in northeast India, she encountered a dearth of role models and inadequate facilities for training, compelling her family to relocate to Delhi. Initially seeking to incorporate physical activity into her routine, Jennifer swiftly realized her aptitude for the sport, cementing her resolve to pursue tennis professionally.
Jennifer’s trajectory boasts a career-high ranking of 682 in the WTA tour (2022) and an impressive rank of 9 in the Indian circuit. With two doubles titles and two doubles finalist accolades, she has also contested three singles finals, all within the ITF 15K.
She underscores the significance of leagues like the Harven Pro Tennis League, emphasizing how they provide vital financial support, stating, “An amount which seems small to others can go a long way in helping players like us.”
Expressing gratitude for the platform, Jennifer highlights how the Harven Pro Tennis League not only offers financial aid but also fosters interaction and learning opportunities for emerging talents to glean insights from India’s top players.
Despite previously representing and playing from Haryana, Jennifer has now shifted her allegiance to her home state, Manipur, driven by a desire to amplify her origins on the tour. Her deep-rooted connection to her homeland fuels her mission to give back to the community that has shaped her identity.
“I am immensely proud to hail from Manipur, the northeast, representing not just my state but also my village, my people, my community, and my tribe (Tangkhul Naga).”
Reflecting on her journey, Jennifer recalls being acknowledged for athleticism but grappling with a lack of recognition as a player. She acknowledges the arduous and solitary path she traversed, crediting it for sculpting her resilience and fortitude. The PTL (Harven Pro Tennis League) emerges as a pivotal platform not only for Jennifer but for numerous others, providing the avenue to voice their narratives.
In her unwavering commitment to her people, Jennifer acknowledges that every hurdle conquered and triumph achieved is a testament to the unwavering support of her community.
Her message to the aspiring youngsters in Manipur resonates with encouragement and camaraderie: “Let’s dream big, we are God-blessed athletes; let’s leverage it and etch history together. Your achon (big sis) has got your back!” (Courtesy: Khel Now)