Ankita Raina, Prajnesh Gunneswaran nominated for Arjuna Awards
Asian Games bronze medallists Ankita Raina and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have been nominated for the prestigious Arjuna award by the All India Tennis Association. The names of Balram Singh and Enrico Piperno for the Dhyanchand honour has also been sent.
Ankita and Prajnesh both won singles bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang.
Ankita is now country’s best-ranked singles (182) and doubles (95) player and is set to make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games next month.
The 28-year-old Ankita has been India’s key player in the Billie Jean King Cup team for the last three years.
Prajnesh is one of the most mature players in the current Indian generation. The 31-year-old left-hander from Chennai, ranked 148 on the ATP charts, has played five Davis Cup ties for the country.
In the Lifetime achievement category, Balram Singh, who has a 50 year-long association with the Indian tennis, will vie for the honour along with Piperno, who coached the Davis Cup team between 1991-2001 for 27 consecutive ties.
The 73-year-old Balram, one of those extremely shy and non-controversial figures in Indian tennis, coached the Davis Cup teams in 1989 (South Korea) and 1990 (Japan).
He himself reached the junior Wimbledon and junior US Open quarterfinals in 1966.
The 59-year-old Piperno also has an impressive CV as he himself is an 1982 Asian Games silver medallist was coach of India’s first Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi from 1997 to 2003 and also travelled for with legendary Leander Paes.
He was also coach of Indian Fed Cup team between 2000 and 2012 and the national women team at the Asian Games in in Busan (2002), Doha (2006) and Guangzhou (2010).
Last year former Davis Cup coach Nandan bal had won the Dhyanchand award.