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Giving back to the game

  • V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
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In focus Sania Mirza hopes her Academy will help local players get good training and exposure

The sleepy surroundings of the Murtuzaguda, a 25-minute drive from the posh Jubilee Hills locality in Hyderabad can well be the buzz of tennis activity very soon.

For it is at this picturesque location that India’s best-ever woman tennis player, Sania Mirza, has decided to set up a world-class academy with the specific intent of spotting and grooming young talent.

And, when the 25-year-old Sania had a review of the works in progress on the four-acre site the other day, her beaming face said it all. “It looks great now and should be a much more fantastic centre very soon,” she exclaimed.

There is reason for this optimism as the Academy is taking final shape when the ground-levelling works and the tar cover for the nine synthetic courts initially planned are complete. “Now, very soon, we will have the synthetic surfaces laid and then the entire venue will wear a totally different look,” insists Sania’s Imran Mirza, who monitors the project with his daughter occasionally visiting because of her professional commitments.

That the Mirzas are leaving no stone unturned in realising one of their dreams to set up a facility which they believe should do a world of good for tennis in the City to start with and then cater to the needy from even the neighbouring countries is evident by the meticulous planning that has gone into it since the work began three years ago on their own site.

A beautifully designed pavilion is already in place with only the finishing touches needed. There will be nine synthetic courts and two clay courts will be added later, informs Imran.

“We will invite exciting talent from the Asian Tour later on as that will also help young talent here to pick up a few finer aspects,” says Sania.

The other plans include organising international camps and coaches’ clinics to upgrade the knowledge and also if possible invite the best of players as part of inspirational efforts for the benefit of the Academy trainees.

“Yes, we have the option of putting outstation players and those from the city willing to opt for residential training by looking for accommodation in the vicinity,” says Imran.

If everything goes as per the plan, we should have a soft launch by March next and once it is complete in all aspects, then it will be another big dream which Sania Mirza will realise.

“There is no better feeling to play your own bit in the promotion of the sport which made me what I am today,” signs off a smiling Sania.

V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

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