Uberoi sisters: Double impact
By Jaydip Sengupta, Sports Writer
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The Uberoi sisters made headlines in 2005 when they reached the final of the WTA Tour Sunfeast Open in Kolkata. Since then, their fortunes have been mixed with the elder sibling Shikha having to take a long lay-off in 2007 due to asthma, despite making an impact with the Indian Fed Cup team alongside Sania Mirza.
Neha, on her part, will have to continue her wait into next year before she can play for India, as she is still a US citizen. It’s her second visit to the Al Habtoor Challenge after last year, while for the 25-year-old Shikha it’s her first and although the duo lost their doubles opener against the top seeds, their cause not helped by the fact that they were playing together for the first time in 10 months, the Mumbai residents are happy to be alive and playing tennis.
"I was playing a tournament in Japan when the Mumbai terror attacks took place and I was so shocked," said Shikha. "I was supposed to go to Mumbai two days after the attacks began, but I changed my flight plans and went to New Delhi instead to practise. They hit all the places that we frequent in Mumbai. It was very scary," Shikha added.
The 22-year-old Neha added that they were also lucky since one of their cousins, Saincher, a food and beverage manager at the Oberoi Trident, one of the hotels hit, was not at work when the attacks took place. "Both he and his wife were elsewhere when it happened," Neha said.
The Uberoi sisters are also thankful that Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi, who also happens to be their cousin, was away in Philadelphia shooting for his new movie. "While we are lucky, we feel terrible for all those people who were not," Shikha said.
The sisters also expressed their concerns about a couple of high-profile WTA tour events being cancelled in India. "The cancellation of the Sunfeast Open and the Bangalore Open had nothing to do with the terror attacks. It was all due to bad management," said Shikha. "We would like to have at least one WTA Tour event in India, but how do we ask?
"When everything was fine we couldn’t hold on to the two tournaments. Now, after the attacks, who would want to play a tournament in India? I mean, I myself would rather play here in the peace and security of Dubai than play back home."
Despite their obvious anger at the way things back home are handled, the sisters will be going back to New Delhi next to play a $50,000 tournament.
And then Shikha will be partnering Mirza and Sunitha Rao, another player who has switched her allegiance to India from the US, to play in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania zone 1 in Perth from February 2.
- Shikha had a career-high singles ranking of 122 in 2005
- Even before Sania Mirza hit the scene, Shikha became the first woman of Indian origin to make it to the second round of a Grand Slam
- Shikha has reached the doubles final of three WTA Tour events
- Both Shikha and Neha attended the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy in their youth
- There are five Uberoi sisters and all of them play tennis.