This article has been submitted by Shaurya Rathore for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
5 years since I have been an avid follower of tennis, I can assure myself that if I read any news about Indian tennis, out of 100 there will be hardly 10 which will talk about the performances of the players, which obviously sounds so ironical. It’s been months I guess since I’ve read anything about Indian tennis. Why to even read about them? Instead, I’ll prefer reading some stuff like Novak Djokovic buying the world’s entire supply of donkey cheese (apparently world’s most expensive cheese) or the likes. Even though it sounds silly but I’ll get to know something factual just for the sake of reading something.
Tennis in India is developing at a snail’s pace. It is yet to be followed by the masses and to be even played by a few. Okay, let’s widely discuss the problems faced by this sport in India:
1) Player v/s Tennis governing board/ players’ themselves-One can read about this anytime. Predominantly we come across these only when it comes about Indian tennis. It is a pity how such respectable and senior players fight like 2 children over petty issues & you can’t stop laughing either on hearing their reasons for their trouble. Same goes with the feud between the tennis governing board & players. People are acquainted with the ugly spat of players & board during Olympics and Davis cup ties over different demands put up by players, further polarizing the tennis fraternity.
2) Cricket-This is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems not just for tennis, but for any sport to develop in India. We are born in a nation where cricket is a religion. Our world is circumscribed by this sport. A 2-month season of IPL is more awaited than a 2-month summer vacation for us. We love cricket so much that we can minimize the size of a stadium to a tiny room to play and don’t even require a proper bat to play! Cricket is durable. Look, I don’t hate cricket, even I love it, but I believe life is way beyond cricket unlike many others, to say the least.
3) Infrastructure-Previously, I mentioned cricket being a durable sport. Also, in India, we have many world-class stadiums now which are surely marvels of creation. But the same can’t be said for tennis. Tennis has 3 surfaces commonly known as-hard, clay & grass. Now, a hard court being the most common surface is easiest to maintain too. Once it’s made, hardly any maintenance is required. But the other 2 require a big deal. Clay courts are cheaper when constructed, but require high maintenance & grass is requires it the most. Obviously India lacks in infrastructure in these types of courts. Also, even if we take the hard courts, one can’t boast about them.
4) Lack of players & resources-I felt really bad when Leander Paes was apprehensive to play with a player in Olympics held in Wimbledon, not only because of his potential, but also because he was suspecting the fact that he might not have grass court shoes to play with. This example aptly emphasizes the 2 aforementioned problems.
Apart from Leander Paes & Mahesh Bhupati in Doubles and Vijay Amritraj in Singles, we can nowhere see a world class player. No, if you think Rohan Bopanna & Somdev Devvarman are world-class players, you haven’t actually seen tennis. True, one can’t deny the fact that they have potential, but they are yet to exploit it to the highest order.
Being a tennis maniac you do expect this sport to rise. It’s not just about tennis, many sports in this country are avoided because of some or the other obvious reasons. With this lucid article, I have just touched 1 of the aspects of this problem of the underdevelopment of sports in India as the title suggests. When we call a game a national sport which has negligible following, we need to introspect. When we find out that our playing qualities aren’t as much as even 1% of the way we follow football, we need to introspect. When we consider the London Olympics the most successful one where we won just 6 medals in spite of having a population of 1.2 billion, we need to introspect. When such amazing sports don’t develop, you need to introspect.
I want to see more of those special moments like the way Leander Paes won the bronze medal in Atlanta Olympics or the way Somdev Devvarman played valorously against Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells. All said & done I just want as this crazy tennis fan to see this sport progress and then let the racket do the talking.