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An evening glitters with tennis stars and ecstatic children

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INTERESTING INTERACTION: Defending champion Xavier Malisse with children at the ‘Boost Play the Pros,’ kids’ tennis clinic in Chennai on Sunday.
INTERESTING INTERACTION: Defending champion Xavier Malisse with children at the ‘Boost Play the Pros,’ kids’ tennis clinic in Chennai on Sunday.

Staff Reporter

‘Boost Play the Pros’ evening, a dream come true for kids

CHENNAI: Kids, tennis stars and photo opportunities galore. The Chennai Open, the biggest tennis event of the year, is here again and what better way to kick-start the eagerly-awaited event than give budding players a chance to play some one-on-one tennis with their favourite tennis stars.

The ‘Boost Play the Pros’ evening was a dream come true, not only for the kids but also for the parents who had gathered at the Corporation Boys High School on Sunday to cheer their children on.

Hundreds of children, some as young as three years old, had come to play with the biggies.

All-time Indian favourites Vijay Amritraj and Prakash Amritraj offered the kids a few tips. Master of ceremonies, sport commentator Charu Sharma kept the buzz going. The excitement never took a breather and reached its height when the kids broke out into a chant for Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis when he stepped onto the rather precarious makeshift courts. His disarming smile seemed to work wonders.

Swiss player Yves Allegro and Baghdatis then engaged in some cross-court action above the heads of a crowd gathered in the middle, much to their amusement. The kids waited in line for their turn, some of them with their racquets standing taller than them.

The highlight of the event, however, came in the form of India’s Yuki Bhambri. The youngest player at the tournament, who at 15 was not much older than some of the kids, was an inspiration to the kids bubbling with dreams of the big league. The excitement of the Chennai Open had now officially begun.

The finale: the best was indeed saved for the last. Defending champ Xavier Malisse of Belgium popped in for his turn with the kids. The kids were ecstatic and mobbed him for photos and autographs. He happily obliged.

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