Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Indian tennis official Nitin Kannamwar will be in the midst of tennis action at 2008 Beijing Olympics, this time designated as the Assistant Chief of Umpires.

“My duties will involve assigning chair umpires and line umpires for Olympic matches, deciding the rotation and selecting match officials for the semifinals and final,” said the 44-year-old Mumbai official.

He officiated as line umpire twice at the Summer Games, 1996 Atlanta and again at 2000 Sydney, doing duty in the women’s singles final won by Venus Williams.

Close scrutiny

Leading names in men’s tennis, from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, will be competing for Olympic medals and national honour at Beijing, so match officials and supervisors like him will be under close scrutiny.

“From the players’ viewpoint, the intensity on court and preparation for Olympics will be the same as at the Grand Slams. The big names are already competing in the Davis Cup and Fed Cup for their countries, so playing for the nation is nothing new,” he said.

Kannamwar will be in Beijing from August 7, a day before the opening ceremony, part of a 140-member team of officials. He is already familiar with the Olympic Green Tennis Centre at Beijing, venue for the tennis competitions.

Test event

“The ITF organised an Olympic test event in October last year to assess every aspect, including the medals presentation ceremony and players’ transportation from lounge to show courts on golf carts,” says the Indian official.

The Indian is already part of an ITF/ATP joint committee for men’s tennis, formed to decide rules and regulations and take policy decisions on the game. A supervisory role beyond the courts at 2008 Olympics is a step forward for Kannamwar after years of on-court performances as line umpire or chair umpire.

“All this time, we used to follow orders from others and wait for officials to grade us. Now I am proud to have moved into a position of responsibility, authorised to decide postings and grade line officials on the basis of decisions taken under pressure,” he added.

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