The second edition of the HCL Inter-School Tennis Challenge got underway for the second time here in Chennai yesterday, after the inaugural edition in the NCR region last year. With this tournament, HCL Enterprise is offering a platform to young tennis players and giving them a golden opportunity to showcase their talent.
The tournament has two categories in which the kids are competing – singles and the team event. Both categories have an under-12 and under-14 bracket in which the competition takes place. The event is happening at the tennis courts inside Ramachandra University here in the city.
Considering it was Day 1 of the competition Monday, the proceedings were a little slow with the kids streaming in and out of the courts with their parents, guardians and coaches in tow. The matches are of one set each.
Amongst the notable stories on day one was that of Siddharth S. Swamy. This 12-year-old boy from Kalpakkam travelled 80 km to make it for his opening round match. Kalpakkam is a town known for its atomic research facility.
Powered by his interest in the game, Siddharth made the long journey along with his mother. His game ended in defeat, however, as he lost to Tharkesh Ashokar. His mother commented about how Siddharth is known for his ability to come back into any match, but on this day, it was not to be. Perhaps the long journey left him a little spent.
Siddharth is into his sixth year of playing tennis. Thanks to a tennis court being present right opposite to their home in his hometown, this was a sport that Siddharth watched and grew up liking and eventually adopted.
He trains with Simon Ebenezer there who runs the Winners’ Tennis Academy. He studies at the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Kalpakkam and he revealed that the school had been very supportive of his tennis inclination. Playing at the KV nationals last year, Siddharth was runner-up in the under-14 category and a semi-finalist in the under-16 category.
I asked him who his favourite player was and it wasn’t surprising to hear the name of the world number one as the answer. Novak Djokovic is his idol, and Siddharth feels his powerful shots are what help him in his game. Being a first generation sportsman in his family, support is one thing that is definitely not lacking.
Siddharth had to travel all the way on the road after the match again, but he will be back with his school mates for the team event on Wednesday.
This year’s tournament is being played between February 22nd and 27th, with young boys and girls from around 50 schools participating, including prominent ones such as Sishya, Good Shepherd, Padma Seshadri and Kendriya Vidyalaya.
The winners of the Delhi tournament, Suyash Gupta (Boys) and Smriti Singh (Girls) were sent to the SchuttlerWaske Tennis University, Frankfurt, Germany for a one-week, all expense paid training program. The winners of the Chennai tournament will also get an opportunity to go for a similar training program with an international academy.