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School to serve with love

V.V. Subrahmanyam
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New facility:Imran Mirza at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy on Friday.- PHOTO: V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
New facility:Imran Mirza at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy on Friday.- PHOTO: V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The Mirzas - Imran and Nasima - know the pain of shaping a young tennis talent as they have groomed the now-famous Sania Mirza. For the simple reason that the best of the young talent does not drift away due to lack of timely support - importantly on the training front for want of world-class facilities at affordable prices - they are putting in place what could be the final destination for the sport in India in the sleepy but serene surroundings of Murtuzaguda, a 25-minute drive from Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad.

“Yes, the ultimate dream is to make it the best tennis academy in this part of the globe where players from India and other Asian countries can train without having to travel to far-off corners of the world,” insists Imran Mirza, father of Sania. And he should know it better having traversed in his car often 36 hours at a stretch to let Sania compete in some AITA tournaments in Thiruvananthapuram.

“The whole concept caught up with us since we have seen many young talented players fade away for lack of proper training facilities. I remember how we struggled to even get decent courts for Sania when she had just started playing tennis,” Imran recalls as he surveys the site, which has seen a dramatic transformation from the jungle-like look the four-acre plot presented not long ago into a picturesque academy now.

For the record, nine courts are nearing completion, and Imran is planning to have three more clay courts soon, besides a swimming pool and a decently-planned club house overlooking the entire playing area. It will be called ‘Sania Mirza Tennis Academy’.

“We hope to nurture some rural talent as well and welcome anyone with genuine interest in the sport,” points out Imran as the Academy is expected to take a final shape in a couple of months for the first batch of players to get a feel of the ambience. “We are not just looking at an Indian perspective of coaching. We intend to rope in many players from the Asian region so that our boys and girls can play against them and keep improving,” says Imran.

The plans include inviting the best of talent from Asia, renowned players and coaches and conducting camps and coaches’ clinics too. The best part is that the Mirzas are ensuring that the accommodation needs of some out-station players’ are also taken care of. Come March, Sania Mirza should be in the news all over again thanks to the magnificent Academy that is coming up.

The Tennis Academy set up by Sania Mirza’s parents at Murtuzaguda is nearing completion


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