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An excerpt from Fire Within by Ronen Chatterjee
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September 14, 2007

Fifteen-year-old Ronen Chatterjee's first novel, Fire Within deals with the game of tennis and also about family relationships.

An exclusive excerpt from the book:

Rohit fell to the ground howling in pain. A doctor immediately came on court and tied a crepe bandage around the injured ankle. Akshay then walked up to Rohit. "If you're very badly hurt you can retire or we can complete the match tomorrow," said Akshay.

"There is no way I am backing out. This is my dad's and my dream. I will not quit on this once in a lifetime opportunity. This injury has screwed me before I won't let it happen again."

But alas it was useless. At set point Akshay hit a one hundred and twelve miles per hour serve giving him an ace and the fourth set. Now the match would have to go into a fifth and deciding set.

Rohit made a lamentable start. Akshay's cross-court backhand struck and proved too good for Rohit's volley 0-15. Then Akshay drove a backhand volley on the move for a winner 0-30.

But Rohit was not a person to wallow in his own stupor for long. Like the fighter he was, he found a higher gear from somewhere. Akshay lost the next four points, three of them to winners from Rohit. The game belonged to him.

Akshay was not to know, but the first game of the decisive set was to the last window of opportunity he would get on Rohit's serve. The second game was also Rohit's. After hitting two glorious winners, Akshay made two double faults. Akshay was now under pressure.

Rohit's luck was running out. During the third game his ankle gave in. Akshay took great advantage of this opportunity. He made Rohit run. By doing this Akshay was back in the set at 3-3. But Rohit fought back and brought the score to 4-4. At this point the points were barely changing. Both men knew that this game would decide the match.

Rohit's ankle couldn't take much more and the game went to Akshay who would now serve for the match. Akshay didn't waste and time he quickly raced into a 40-0 lead and now had triple match point.

Some people were even leaving the arena at this point. On one side Harsha and Aarti were standing in joy cheering their son Akshay on. On the other side Arpita and Maria were very tense, but Rohan kept cheering and tried to will Rohit on.

Akshay now wanted to finish the match. He served deep but it landed fault. He served again but the ball landed in the net causing a double fault. Rohit took a deep breath. He saved one match point but still had to dodge two bullets.

But Rohit's luck was good. Akshay made another double fault and had just one match point left. Akshay served and ran to the volley. Rohit saw him coming, so he turned his return into a lob. It was high and far and looked as if it was going out but landed on the line. Rohit was now relaxed he had saved three match points.

At deuce Rohit made his comeback and brought the score to 5-5. Akshay now gave it all he had and made it 5-6. But Rohit's successful serve got him through two match points and made the score 6-6. Rohit with every fibre in his being was able to make the score 6-6. The final climax was here and now.

Akshay was sitting on his seat wand was wondering what to do. Rohit changed his shirt and both players returned on to court. Teenage girls kept chanting Rohit's name. Akshay now had to serve to stay in the match.

Both players slugged it out but Rohit got the better of Akshay. Akshay had to serve at 30-40. The crowd was on its feet.

Championship point two. Akshay served to Rohit's back hand. Akshay volleyed the ball back down the center of the court on the baseline. Rohit picked his spot with the deliberation of a sniper. His back hand pass ripped beyond Akshay to land in history.

Akshay fell on the ground. Rohit fell on his knees, raising his arms and roaring "Yes!!" After three hours and fifty three minutes Rohit Roy had done what his dad had done before.

Rohit had won three sets to two: 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (13-11), 8-6. Rohit shook hands with Akshay and ran into the crowd and hugged Maria, Arpita and especially Rohan. "Well done son" said Rohan. "Couldn't have done it without you Dad, Love you" replied Rohit.

Rohit then went back on to the court and bowed and thanked the crowd. He then received a check for one million dollars.

Rohit had captured his dream as well as the dream of everyone else who said, "You can't do it." Now Rohit's name was put down in history, as he had become the second Indian to win a grand slam title.

Excerpted from Fire Within by Ronen Chatterjee, published by Haranand India, with the publisher's permission.

Also read: A published author at 15, he's still not satisfied

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