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On fresh turf

For Mahesh Bhupathi, who was recently conferred the "For the Sake of Honour Award", Chennai holds a special place in his heart

YOUNG RISHAB Dev Rajashekar experienced the equivalent of winning the Wimbledon, this past weekend, when he strode onto a podium at Raintree (Connemara) to receive an excellence award from tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi. The award went to Rishab for reaching the top in the under-12 category in the State.

The event was organised by the Rotary Club of Madras Chenna Patna, to honour Mahesh for his "consistency on the tennis court, efforts to promote sporting excellence through his sports management company Globosport and the Nike-Bhupathi Sports Village school in Bangalore".

Mahesh received what was called "For The Sake Of Honour Award" from veteran Vijay Amritraj as much for his ability to "nurture a loving family with your charming and caring spouse Swetha" as for his staggering highs and incredible achievements in doubles tennis.

Accepting the honour, Bhupathi said his father hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and his mother from Kerala, and he lived in Bangalore. "Yet Chennai is special to me. For, I was born here, have won many tournaments here and have married a girl from this city. For these reasons, I am extremely happy to receive this award here."

Later, he spoke about his latest passion, the sports management company Globosport.

"The venture is picking up steam as we have signed up men and women from a wide spectrum of sports," he said. Among its clients are cricketers Zaheer Khan, Aavishkar Salvi, Akash Chopra, Ambati Rayudu and Irfan Pathan Jr., tennis players Sania Mirza, Isha Lakhani and Bopanna, squash player Ritwik Bhattacharya, golfer Viraat Badhwar and sailor Nitin Mongia, to name a few.

Despite his days being chocked with tennis tournaments and demands from this new commitment, he refuses to be rushed off his feet. He manages to get away from the grind, now and then. "Only recently did we vacation in Mauritius," he said. For the record, his wife Shweta is pursuing an MBA course in Hyderabad.

The open-air setting at Raintree was pleasing, and it was made more so by the presence of Vijay. Introducing him to the audience, president of the club Geeta Menon called him "stylish". Vijay who looked dashing in a light-coloured suit, made a witty speech. Vijay called tennis the sport of a lifetime, a game one could play well into one's eighties and nineties. The Good Samaritan act of the evening was the auctioning of a few of Mahesh's sports-wear and sports-gear. The sale netted Rs. 22,000. Two T-shirts, signed by Vijay and Mahesh, fetched Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 3,000.

In what was called supper-theatre, Evam served up a wacky slice of British comedy. Called "Phython Hyssssteria", it was a series of sketches. One of them was filled with eristic exchanges between two men. One pays the other "to have a bit of an argument". All the other pieces were in this mould - ironic and off-the-wall.


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