Brothers to a TT!

Prince Frederick
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CHATLINE The Rao Brothers are synonymous with table tennis in Chennai. Prince Frederick shoots the breeze with Srinivasa and Muralidhara

All of five years, Prasanna takes on a table tennis robot. The machine sways to and fro and spews out orange balls in quick succession, and the boy is unable to match its pace. Instead of reducing the robot's speed of delivery, 54-year-old A. Muralidhara Rao steps up to the table, holds the boy's hand and helps him counter-smash the fast-moving balls. Muralidhara explains, “The easiest route never leads to laurels.” His elder brother A. Srinivasa Rao (57) nods in agreement.

The ‘Rao brothers' — as they are known in table tennis circles — are themselves an illustration of this principle. Hailing from an obscure town in Andhra Pradesh, they learnt to play table tennis without any coaching assistance and reached a level of distinction, switched to coaching while still young enough to continue as players, persisted despite a lack of demand for TT coaching and finally erected a premier TT coaching school, the SDAT-AKG Table Tennis Development Centre.

In a joint career spanning about 30 years, the Rao brothers have consistently produced champion players. The list of protégés includes Sharath Kamal (who is Srinivasa Rao's eldest son), Chetan Baboor, S. Raman, N. Ravichandran, K.R. Sharad, M.S. Mythili, B. Bhuvaneswari, N. Arulselvi, T. Pradeepa and K. Shamini.

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