Tennis

Tennis | We have to get local guys to play first: Sunder

Ready for challenge: Sunder Iyer, seen with Rutuja Bhosale and Mahak Jain, is clear about the path ahead for the sport.

Ready for challenge: Sunder Iyer, seen with Rutuja Bhosale and Mahak Jain, is clear about the path ahead for the sport.  

Suggests that the sport may have to grow to become more popular

It is hard for active sportspersons to stay idle for long. Considering COVID-19’s devastating impact, a lot of caution is required before sports can spring back to life.

“Everyone is keen to resume the sport. We have discussed what needs to be done to get players back on tennis courts. There are guidelines from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the USTA,” said Sunder Iyer, secretary-general of the Maharashtra Tennis Association and executive member of the All India Tennis Association (AITA).

“We have to localise. We may have to keep crowds away. We may have to keep parents away,”

Having organised more than 1,500 tournaments at all levels, Sunder , a qualified coach, who has both legal and journalistic work experience before he took up sports administration, is clear about the path ahead.

“We have to get the local guys to play first. Starting with restrictions to facilities for people of that area.

“Even for the AITA, we have worked out a plan, starting with local level tournaments so that there is not much travel involved,” said Sunder, in an Instagram conversation with coach M. Balachandran.

Sunder visualised players travelling by October, and getting into their groove before that with local events.

Ideal time

He suggested that tennis may have to grow, to be more popular. The fresh start could be the ideal time to tweak the norms.

“Most of the corporates are playing golf,” said Sunder, about the need to keep tennis close to the hearts of the decision makers. It is hard on the fans. They cannot bring water or food. No walking, no talking in the stands. People are coming to watch sports to enjoy. As a sport, we may have to grow,” he said.

Emphasising on the focus to tap talent from rural areas, Sunder pointed out how one such player — Prarthana Thombare from Nasik — went on to win a medal in the Asian Games and compete in the Rio Olympics with Sania Mirza as her doubles partner.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 2:13:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/tennis-we-have-to-get-local-guys-to-play-first-sunder/article31568539.ece

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