One of India’s fittest Tennis players, Somdev Devvarman shocked the world at the start of 2017 by announcing retirement. This news came as a shocker for many Indian tennis fans and players alike. Since turning pro in 2008, Somdev was India’s leading singles tennis player for most of his career.
He broke the news of his retirement via Twitter. He tweeted “Starting 2017 on a new note, retiring from pro tennis. Thanks to everyone for the love and support over the year’s. #newyearnewbeginnings,”
Announcing his retirement, he was as much an anomaly as he was in his playing days. Somdev shook the nation that was besotted with serves and volley tennis, with his dazzling foot-speed.
Devvarman showed budding tennis players that there was more than one way to win on the court. He ignited the flame in the minds of Indians to have someone to cheer on in the singles draws even in this intense, physical age of tennis.
Somdev Devvarman was fitter than any Indian player we had seen. Much of his physicality can be attributed to the four years he spent at the United States’ University of Virginia. He played college tennis and won the coveted National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) two years in a row, in 2007 and 2008.
Vishal Uppal, former Indian Davis Cupper had high praises for his compatriot. He said, “Somdev is and was one of the fittest athletes India ever produced. When he was still in college, he had taken me to the track where they train. He told me they would train as hard as they could, till they would throw up, and then do another sprint. That’s the limits he pushed his body to.”
Early Life and Career of Somdev Devvarman
- Somdev Devvarman was born on 13 February 1985 in Guwahati in Assam. His father’s name is Pravanjan Devvarman, who’s a retired income tax officer and his mother’s name is Ranjana. His full name is Somdev Kishore Devvarman and belongs to the royal family of Tripura and is the grandson of the royal scion of Tripura, Bikramendra Kishore Debbarman.
- Somdev’s parents moved to Kolkata when he was a baby and he spent his childhood days in Kolkata. When his father was transferred to Chennai, he started practising the game of tennis. Somdev completed his schooling at Asan Memorial School.
- Somdev Devvarman started participating in competitive tournaments from 2002. He got the Kolkata F2 Championship in 2004. After this he went to US and did his higher education in sociology at the University of Virginia. There Somdev won the 2007 NCAA Singles Championship when he was at college. He then won the NCAA Singles National Championship consecutively.
- Devvarman after his graduation from the University of Virginia signed a contract with the sports management company named Mamba International. This was the start of his professional career. He won the Futures tournament singles title held at Rochester in New York. Somdev partnered with Treat Huey to win the doubles title.
- Somdev Devvarman won his first professional title at the Lexington Challenger on 27 July 2008 and reached the finals at the 2009 Chennai Open. He played at various events like South African Tennis Open 2011, Davis Cup, BNP Paribas Open, 2011 Dubai Tennis Championships, 2011 Australian Open, 2011 Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston Texas, etc
- The big moment of his career came when he was given wild card entry to participate at the men’s singles event in the London Olympics.
- In 2012 he was managed by Globosport, the company of Mahesh Bhupathi. Lacoste and Babolat sponsored him.
Somdev Devvarman – Indian Tennis Fraternity shocked by his retirement
The Indian tennis fraternity had a moment of shock at the start of 2017 when Somdev Devvarman announced his retirement via Twitter. They came together to acknowledge the contributions of Somdev Devvarman to the sport in the country and the benchmarks he has set for the up and coming youngsters.
The likes of SP Misra, Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni and Sania Mirza all pid huge tributes to Somdev. Most of them expressed their surprise at the tennis star’s early retirement.
Yuki Bhambri the upcoming tennis star of India said, “For me, he is the best Davis Cupper in singles that I have seen. There are greats like Ramanathan, Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes, but when I started playing I have idolized Somdev.”
“He pushed us and showed us the way. We know how difficult it has become today when the courts are slow the balls are heavy and he sustained there. He set a benchmark for us,” added Yuki Bhambri.
The former captain of the Indian Davis Cup team, SP Misra was a big fan lauded Somdev’s fitness. Misra says, “Indian players should learn from him how to be so fit. He was a fitness freak. He played some great matches in Davis Cup. People can take a leaf out of his book. He also played some great matches at the Asian Games as well. His contribution to Indian tennis is tremendous.”
Putting light on Somdev’s playing career, Misra singled out some of his great ties. The matches against Chinese Taipei and Serbia, where the Tripura boy beat Lu and Janko Tipsarevic, were his standout performances.
“We made it to the World Group twice and that was his major contribution,” Misra concluded.
Saketh Myneni, another rising star of Indian tennis, said, “The kind of champion he is I thought he will give it one more shot. It’s a challenge for us also now to fill in those shoes.”
“Players will come and go but having Somdev Devvarman around was very encouraging. He always helped me with his advice. He was very easy going.” Ramkumar Ramanathan said,
Sania Mirza did not speak to media persons regarding the retirement, but congratulated Somdev on his career through Twitter.
Tennis legend Leander Paes said one of Devvarman’s lasting impressions on Indian tennis will be the focus he brought to fitness.
“Somdev is very focused and brings a lot of intensity in the practice sessions,” said Prajnesh Gunneswaran. “He knows exactly what he wants and what he wants me to do, so it’s pretty simple; he knows what to do, I listen to it.”
Somdev Devvarman – Hits and Misses of his Career
In 2011, Somdev Devvarman reached the highest ranking of his tennis career, which was 62. But a recurring shoulder injury threatened his career. He did come back strongly in 2013, breaking into the top-100 again, but since mid-2014 his ranking has steadily fallen.
The boy from Tripura, Somdev Devvarman came into the spotlight with a breakthrough performance at the Chennai Open in 2009, where he reached the final before losing to Marin Cilic.
Enhancing his good performances, Somdev made it to the title round at one more ATP 250 tournament. It was the 2011 South African Open in Johannesburg, where he went down to Kevin Anderson.
Representing India, he made his Davis Cup debut at Uzbekistan in 2008. Since then, Somdev has been the torch-bearer for the country in the competition. He played 24 matches and won 14.
According to tennis fans, Somdev Devvarman had the most memorable victory in WC playoff against Jiri Vesely. Ranked 100 places above him, the Indian tennis star made a meal out of his Czech Republic opponent in 2015.
Somdev played his last tournament in a Futures event, in March 2016 in the US. He lost in the quarterfinals.
Career Highlights of Somdev Devvarman
- Reached a career-high ATP Ranking of 62, the best by an Indian in the last 25 years
- Received the Arjuna Award in 2011 for his contribution to Indian Tennis
- Won the Gold Medal in Men’s Singles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games
- Won Gold Medals in both Men’s Singles & Men’s Doubles at the 2010 Asian Games
- Was nominated for the “ATP Comeback Player of the Year” award in 2013
- The only Indian player to reach the final of the Chennai Open
- Reached 2 ATP tour level finals(Chennai and Johannesburg)
- Has had wins over top players like Milos Raonic, Carlos Moya, Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic, John Isner, Marcos Baghdatis and Janko Tipsarevic.
Somdev Devvarman – Team KreeOn Opines
Indian tennis fans were hoping for the return of Somdev, a regular feature on India’s Davis Cup ties. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) and Indian Davis cup team captain in 2017 Anand Amritraj are scouting the next Somdev. They want that one player who could fill his place.
It is a trend that number of collegiate players takes up coaching. Somdev Devvarman may take up a coaching role in India or the United States, but he is yet to speak out on his future plans. In the end we would like to say that the retirement of Somdev Devvarman retirement, leaves a big space on the singles for India’s Davis Cup team.