Popular France based tennis brand, Babolat, organised an open court on Sunday at the Krishnan Tennis Centre in Perungudi, which was part of their many open court sessions conducted throughout various tennis academies based in Chennai.
The session in Perungudi invited all the youngsters, adults and players to try out a smash or two with Babolat racquets. Babolat products were also up for sale with company’s attendants helping out young tennis enthusiasts in choosing the right kind of shoe or racquet.
The tennis centre was filled with some serious young tennis players. Even before the event got started, these children had a warm-up session and were continuously working on their serves. One of the young players, Siddharth, a 10-year-old, who has been practising at the academy for the past two and a half years, spends around 22 hours a week at the centre. This young tennis player wishes to spend more time at the academy but says the school workload doesn't allow him to do so. Another young player, Mukesh, a 12-year-old, who has been practising at the centre for the past three years is a lot luckier than Siddharth. Mukesh, admitted with a smile, that his parents give more weightage to his performances in tennis than the ones in academics.
Babolat products are distributed in India by the famous table tennis brand STAG which manufactures products in the western Uttar Pradesh city of Meerut. The French brand is known globally primarily because of being a sponsor of the Spanish great Rafael Nadal. For the Perungudi session, they had on board former national champion and a legend of Indian tennis, Nitin Kirtane, to help out kids in using their tennis racquets (primarily, Babolat ones) in an orthodox manner.
Kirtane guided the young kids in getting their serves and smashes right. On being asked what India needs to do in order to get a singles Grand Slam champion, Kirtane said that the support system needs to be good and unless the corporates get properly involved, India will never get a player of Nadal or Federer’s class.
While having a glass of water after an exhausting tennis session with the kids, Kirtane added that a good system is essential to produce champions which eventually helps the quality of tennis in the country. The former Davis Cup player gives the example of the Serbian system, where the required support was given to Novak Djokovic during his early years and he in turn became a world class player who equalled his idol Pete Sampras' tally of 14 Grand Slams titles on Sunday. Djokovic’s success, in turn, has helped Serbia in getting more quality players through their system.
Kirtane signed off saying, he expects things to get better for Indian tennis under the leadership of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore before flying back to his hometown Pune.