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KALYAN ASHOK
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Giving hope to government school and special needs children, tennis coach Murugan is spreading ample strokes of happiness in society

With a good racquet costing not less than Rs.20,000, tennis is surely not a poor man’s game. But there are a few coaches who wish to make the sport accessible to all individuals, despite their economic status. One such man is Murugan, who runs the True Bounce Tennis Academy in two centres in the city - Malleshapalya and Tubarahalli.

In a laudable move, the coach has opened the doors of his academy to children from nearby government schools to get a feel of the game. “It all began when children of a government school here used to hang around my court and watch my trainees. I thought why not give them also a chance to learn the game. First, I began training them in physical fitness and later picked up a few of them to undergo basic training in tennis. The idea was to train at least 10 such kids in tennis who, in normal circumstances, cannot afford it,” says the coach.

There are 30 supporting staff and over 400 trainees, both youngsters and adults, in his camps at Malleshpalya and Tubrahalli. Both venues together have 14 courts, which makes True Bounce Academy one of the largest of its kind in Bangalore. “I plan to add six more in the neighbourhood.” He has come a long way since the day he began with one court and a solitary ball boy a decade ago. Murugan’s effort has been reaping good rewards. One of his trainees Apoorva, recently won the AITA under-16 Talent Series title.

“She has been training with me for the last three years and I am happy with the progress she has made. There are other children like Shiv Aditya, Rishab, Vishal, Koushika, Vidya and Deeksha, who are also AITA junior players. My aim is to give all of them a solid basic training in fitness and strokes, which should provide them a platform to go to a higher level in the game,” says Murugan.

Always looking for innovative ways to train, Murugan has now embarked on training kids with special abilities. “It is wrong to call them challenged as they have their own special abilities, which a normal child might not possess,” he says. Raj, an IT Professional with TCS and the father of one of the children, vouches for the benefits of such training. “My son Aadish is a special child. But ever since I put him here, he has shown better concentration and focus and is learning to enjoy the game. We look forward to his training session here and Murugan and his staff have been very helpful and understanding.

Another Parent Uma feels that the training has helped her hyper active daughter Anika to channelise her energy. “She really likes coming down here and playing with the others and I can see the difference doing a lot of good to her,” says Uma. According to Dr. Tejaswini Udupa, a clinical child psychologist, training special kids in sports is a welcome step. “When they learn to play, it helps improve their coordination and goes a long way in enhancing their self-esteem and well being. It should be accompanied by proper therapy sessions as well,” she adds.

Murugan does know that he is doing something right and hopes to fine tune his training with inputs from all those who are involved in this field.

KALYAN ASHOK

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