There was hectic activity at the CLTA Stadium in Sector-10, even as the Indian and New Zealand tennis players took turns to train at the centre court for the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup relegation play-off tie to be held here from September 14 to 16.
A special enclosure was being built with the latest technology and there was even hushed talk of the Prime Minister making an appearance. The new electronic scoreboard with a remote control was being checked and the patriotic young operators wanted India to hold the upper hand even in the mock operation.
The big board, announcing the Chandigarh Academy for Rural Tennis (CHART), was hurriedly removed from inside the arena, as it was felt the International Tennis Federation (ITF) would not tolerate any infringement of the advertisement rules.
Things were a lot simple when this stadium hosted the World Group semifinals, on grass, against Australia in 1993. Local lad Sanam Singh, who won the doubles gold with Somdev Devvarman in the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, was just five years old then.
“Am playing well and feeling strong mentally and physically. Of course, there is always scope for improvement,” said the 24-year-old Sanam, ranked 367 in the world.
He could have been ranked much higher had he not been out of action for three months due to chicken pox after the last match in Uzbekistan.
Sanam beat India’s No.1 Yuki Bhambri last week in the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Challenger, as a qualifier. “It was a tough match lasting two hours and 40 minutes. Yuki is a great player and very talented,” said Sanam, who has been doing well in the US as well, recently.
“It is a great opportunity to represent India. Hopefully, we all can bring our ‘A’ game,” he said.
It will be interesting to see captain S.P. Misra’s plans on the team combination. Misra, though, was categorical in saying that the idea was to stick to the original four and the two reserves Divij Sharan and Sriram Balaji.
Notably, Divij shot up to No. 94 in the latest world doubles rankings, while Balaji rose to 337 in singles, the third best behind Yuki (179) and Vishnu (262), ahead of Saketh Myneni (383).
After the stint in the NCAA in the US, Sanam has been struggling to get adequate support to continue on the professional circuit. He was not sure about his plans after the Davis Cup tie and said he would perhaps return to the US.
The tie as such may not attract much attention, but as visualised by team doctor Vece Paes, who was on duty as usual even though his son Leander Paes was not, it would be an opportunity for youngsters gain the thrust to make a mark on the professional circuit.
The Kiwis were upset about the noise and dust, but went about their task of preparing in right earnest, unmindful of the scoreboard that constantly projected them in poor light!