Tennis

Catching them young

It was a special moment for ten youngsters when they received tennis scholarships from Mahesh Bhupathi

Mahesh Bhupathi is surrounded by excited parents and fans at the Vijay Shanti stall in the SDAT Tennis stadium. He is giving away Vijay Shanthi Builders' one-year tennis coaching scholarships to ten children, even as their parents struggle to freeze the moment with their cameras. With fans thrusting notepads for Mahesh to autograph, chaos prevails. The tennis star does not frown at this bedlam, but patiently obliges both photograph and autograph hunters.

After the shoving hands and the cameras rest, Mahesh is ready for the media. Since he has to get ready for the courts, there's only time for rapid-fire questions. Answering one, he pithily says up-and-coming tennis players now find it less hard to find patrons.

Getting support for their wards has been the desire of many parents. The broad smile on Ashok's face shows it's one of the best days of his life. Promising youngster Vikram's father, he runs the Lemuria Tennis Association and is his son's coach. “He is number two in the State in his age group,” says Ashok, suggesting that he deserves this recognition from the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA).

All the ten children – V. Jeevan, Rehan Kumar, Vikram Dhananjay, L.R. Balaji, Bharath Nishok Kumaran, A. Shameema, Thanushree Palani Vale, R. Abinikka, G.S. Vasavi and R. Sai Avanthika – were chosen by the TNTA last year on the basis of their rankings in under-12 tennis. They constitute the top five in the girls and boys sections, says Hiten Joshi, chief operating officer, TNTA.

Sumathi, mother of Thanushree, knows what this recognition means to her daughter, who is hooked on the sport. Thanushree's parents encourage her in the sport all the way. Now, they are glad others are also watching out for her.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 7:04:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Catching-them-young/article12079586.ece

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