As the only ATP event in India, ATP Maharashtra Open comes to end this week and Next week the Challenger Event will be held in Bengaluru it good time to take stock of what is happening in the Indian tennis Scene.
The performance of the Indian tennis players in singles has been on downward spiral and nothing illustrates this better than the fact that ATP Maharashtra open was held immediately after the Australian open so many big stars opted out (which was not good from fans point of view) but it gave opportunity for Indian tennis players to go deep into the tournament but sadly no one made use of this.
In Australian open itself only 1 indian prajnesh gunneswaran entered the main draw as lucky loser and he had good draw ,he was to face Japanese player ranked below him and if he won that match he would face Djokovic in the second round which would have been great chance to test his skills against the very best but alas Prajneesh could not beat the Japanese player .
In fact in 2019 Prajnesh made it to the main draw of all 4 Grand slams but could not win single match in the main draw .Later on he came to Pune but still could not do much only reaching 2nd round.
For most of the 2010’s decade we have seen quite few youngsters from India trying to make a mark on the international circuit but have not really broken into the upper echelons of the game.
To fair many established countries like United States and Australia which historically have produced Grand slam champions have not been able to do so due to the presence of the Big 3 who have dominated the game like no other generation but at least Indian fans expect 2-3 players to be in top 100 but we are very far from that.
In the last Decade We have had Yuki Bhambri,Ramkumar Ramnath among others who showed flashes of brilliance but alas never consistent at the ATP level to stay in top 100 for long period of time .
The only exception has been Somdev Devvarman who sadly had to retire early due to injuries .Also we have young Sumit Nagal who gave good account of himself against Roger Federer taking one set against the great man in the US Open but since then has done nothing of note even in the Challenger circuit.
So why India is not able to produce Good quality Singles players. Tennis is very physical sport so do generally Indians don’t have the physique to play it at the highest level? Players like Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Varman have got injured after playing well.
For a sport to grow it needs to have few things going and currently Tennis lacks that in India. Its very expensive to play tennis in India compared to other sports like Cricket,football and recently Badminton.
Young kids can start playing these sports with inexpensive equipment even in small grounds or in even in Car parks inside apartments and then if kids like the sport they can enroll into academy or coaching centres but to start the playing the sport its simple and easy but for tennis its not possible to play tennis just for fun ,need to join Club or coaching camp which not many middle class kids can’t afford.
In fact these days Badminton is showing the way with many Courts coming up in cities where kids and parents can play for an hour by paying few hundred rupees and later on if the kid likes to play more they can join training centre Of course to play professional Cricket badminton or football we need expensive equipment but at least then kids and parents and coaches can make decision based on kid’s talent but for tennis right away it requires money which is a problem.
The other problem is transition from Junior to Senior Circuit .India has had many Junior Grand slam champions right from the days of Ramanathan Krishnan to his son Ramesh and later on Leander and recently Yuki Bhambri but making it big on the Grand slam and ATP circuit has been problem for which we need to find answers.
Is it that other countries boys grow into men with better physique or we don’t provide enough tournaments during the transition phase from junior to senior?
Still Lets hope that in the future India is able to produce good tennis players by overcoming all these challenges.
Written by – “Sandeep Kumar
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