Bhimavaram `courting' tennis with gusto

Staff Reporter

Town hosting yet another national fixture

Nearly 200 players taking part in three age categoriesTotal prize money at stake is Rs 2.50 lakhs

VIJAYAWADA: Hold your breath! Bhimavaram, the bustling coastal town of Andhra Pradesh is fast earning the sobriquet - the Mecca of tennis in Andhra region for it boasts as many as 11 courts including a synthetic court. After successfully hosting an All-India Tennis Association's (AITA) men's ranking tournament last year at Cosmopolitan Club, the town is hosting yet another national fixture - all India senior tennis tourney in memory of late Gokaraju Ranga Raju, which concludes on March 18 at Youth Cultural Club.

Nearly 200 players from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and Orissa are taking part in the age category of 45 plus, 55 plus and 65 plus.

Says G. Viswanadha Raju, secretary, Youth Cultural Club: "The total prize money at stake is Rs 2.50 lakhs. We upgraded our tennis court in 2005 by laying a synthetic court as per the specification of AITA for the growth of the sport in this region. We spent nearly Rs. 15 lakh for laying the court with the help of Mr. Elangovan of Coimbatore." Some of the top ranked players like Vinod Sridhar, Vishuvardhan, Aditya Madkekar and Saurav Sukul had enthralled local spectators with their on-court prowess in various tournaments.

DNR College, Vishnu College, Cosmopolitan Club and Youth Cultural Club are having two clay courts each and SRKR Engineering College and Town Hall are having one clay court each for the benefit of the tennis aficionados.

Organising secretary of the tournament K. Srinivasa Raju said that the club was proving free boarding and lodging for all the players. "We have enhanced the prize by Rs one lakh this year," he added.

As a gesture towards the participating senior players, the organising committee is also conducting free medical check up like sugar, blood pressure, ECG, cholesterol and kidney tests free of cost under the supervision of doctors P.R.K. Varma, a cardiologist and Dr M. Bapiraju, an ophthalmologist, said S. Sivarama Raju, organising secretary of the tourney.