What's the story?
With none of the Indian players reaching the quarterfinals of Bengaluru Tennis Open 2020, the nation's leading singles stars Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Saketh Myneni have called out the top officials for the inadequate tennis infrastructure in India. They even pointed out that the lack of funds is hurting their progress at the global level.
Making a name for yourself in the tennis universe is a tough job, especially considering the fact that the players have to travel all over the world to participate in tournaments. No male Indian player has broken into the top 50 of the ATP rankings since 1985; despite the progress in the doubles category, there has been no improvement on the singles side.
The fact that 11 Indian players made it to the main draw of the Bengaluru Open but none of them could secure a quarterfinal berth reinforces the sorry state of Indian tennis.
The heart of the matter
When asked about the reason behind the failure of the Indian singles players, Gunneswaran gave the following reply to The New Indian Express on Saturday:
“We don’t have a system in place to nurture players. So, expecting them to consistently do well and reach the top 20 or so is futile.”
He further pointed out that the best tennis players get zero support from the officials, which stunts their progress. Gunneswaran continued:
“If you are the best in the country, you get some support but otherwise, it’s zero. Getting to the level where you could be India’s best is where you need the support most and we don’t have that. A lot of potentials are lost due to financial constraints.”
Myneni echoed his compatriot's words and stated:
"There have been talks about funding since the time I started. I haven’t seen anything change in that direction. It’s on the individual to do well and keep fighting.”
The expenses for a player like Gunneswaran range from ₹80 lakh to ₹1 crore a year, and the players have to bear almost 90-100 percent of their expenses. That is difficult for most middle-class households to afford.
It is high time the governing bodies take note of the statements made by the Indian tennis stars and do something to improve the system.Published 15 Feb 2020, 13:41 IST