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Tennis in India was introduced by the British Army and Civilian Officers in the 1880’s. To govern and maintain the sport, AllIndia Tennis Association was established in 1920 and was affiliated to International Tennis Federation and Asian Tennis Federation. Indian tennis has been in the lime light right from the days of 1922 when the first Inter Provincial Tournament was held. This was won by the Punjab Provincial Team led by Mohd. Saleem. Since then, tennis in India has come a long way. The game has a good fan following in the country. With the passage of time funds have increased for the game and viewership has increased simultaneously which has been a really big achievement. Most important, over the years, some talented tennis players have graced the tennis courts and made a mark at the highly competitive international level.
Vijay Amritraj, for instance, has many titles to his name and he was ranked Number 16 in 1980 — which is till date the highest world ranking achieved by a male tennis player from India. Ramesh Krishnan was one of the most talented tennis players thatIndia has ever produced. Ramesh Krishnan reached his highest ranking of Number 23 in 1985. Ramesh Krishnan was also awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1998. Anand Amritraj won accolades during his time and is also considered one of the best tennis players India has produced. He reached a world ranking of 74. Sashi Menon evoked a lot of respect from his rivals. Sashi Menon was mainly a doubles player and won several accolades during his career. He reached a world ranking of 87 in the Men’s Doubles. The other name which has made the country proud Leander Paes. He is considered as one of the best Indian tennis players in the country today. He has won number a number of tournaments including a Bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
There are a number of gifted new players who have come up in recent times. Rohan Bopanna, Vishnu Vardhan, Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Sanam Singh, Ankita Bhambri are a few names who have entered the international circuit. And yet, in the larger international context, most Indian players have failed to make an impact on a continuous basis at the big events.
He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India for his incredible performances in 2001. He achieved the world ranking of 73 in men’s singles and world number 1 in men’s doubles. Mahesh Bhupati has also made a name for himself. He achieved a world singles ranking of 217 in 1998 and in 1999, earned was raked Number 1 in the Men’s Doubles. He was also awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001. In women’s tennis, Sania Mirza needs no introduction. She was awarded the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri by the Government of Indiain 2004 and 2006 respectively. She achieved a career best world ranking of 27 in the Women’s Singles and Number 7 in the Women’s Doubles.
There are a number of gifted new players who have come up in recent times. Rohan Bopanna, Vishnu Vardhan, Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Sanam Singh, Ankita Bhambri are a few names who have entered the international circuit. And yet, in the larger international context, most Indian players have failed to make an impact on a continuous basis at the big events. Is it because of the lower endurance and the lower body strength of Indian players as compared to others on the grueling international circuit ? Is it because of the fact that there is minimum support from the Government on the sport as a result of which the players have not come through? The recent controversies and differences between the players and the governing body is common knowledge. For the future of Indian tennis and the future of Indian players, it is high time such controversies came to an end.
Players to adopt ‘wait and watch’ policy over Davis Cup row
Still awaiting the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) response to their demands, Indian tennis star Rohan Bopanna said he and his fellow revolting players will adopt a wait-and-watch approach before deciding on whether to compete in the upcomingDavis Cup tie against Korea. “We have to wait and see,” was Bopanna’s terse reply when asked whether the players, including top singles star Somdev Devvarman, would compete in the tie next month.
“We have not heard anything from the AITA. I think when somebody makes some points it is important. Nobody writes an e-mail without importance attached to it,” said the player on why it was important for specific demands to be sent to AITA. His comments came after a major controversy broke out in Indian tennis after top players threatened to boycott next month’s DavisCup tie against South Korea if their demands were not met.
Among the demands raised by the players are replacement for non-playing captain S P Misra and national coach Nandan Bal. The players have also asked for a physiotherapist’s induction in the squad. “We are looking for betterment of tennis. It is not about whether you can point out your demands only when you have achieved something. At the end of the day, we are there to make the sport grow and the youngsters benefit from it,” he said. “We want youngsters doing well and coming up through great systems like they have in the US or Europe where the Federations support all the players and help them in a big way. You see Czech Republic won the Fed cup, Hopman Cup and Davis cup and such things help the Federation and the players, who are working as a team. Therefore, the youngsters would like to move up in their careers,” he added.