When India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan defeated compatriot Somdev Devvarman for his first ever ATP victory at the Chennai Open 2013, the people of Tamil Nadu saw it as their victory. None more so than the coaches at the Triangle Tennis Trust at YMCA where the Chennai lad spent his early days honing his basic skills. “ TTT was my first coaching centre. All the coaches have helped me immensely, and only from here I have become a player,” says Ramkumar, who also now trains at the Sanchez Casal Academy.
The academy has also been the breeding ground for local stars such as Neeraj Elangovan and C. Sai Samitha who have gone on to make waves at the national level. So what sets the Triangle Tennis Trust apart?
A UNIQUE INITIATIVE
Established in 1983, the Triangle Tennis Trust, formed by a group of 6 tennis enthusiasts, was granted land by the YMCA that was previously being used as a football field. From such humble beginnings, the academy has hosted several former tennis stars, from Pat Cash who visited in 2006, to Indian legends such as Ramesh Krishnan and Vijay Amritraj.
Apart from producing some of the best tennis stars of the country, TTT also stands tall as an example of one of the few successful collaborations between the private and public sector. “ It is the private initiative that brings interest into the game. Our relationship with the Government is also at an all time high”, says Mr R.M Narayanan, son of Mr C.N Ramachandran, one of the founding members of the trust. The Government support to Tamil Nadu Tennis was only cemented when the State Government recently announced a 2 crore package to the Chennai Open, until 2016.
THE TTT WAY
The 10 dedicated coaches at the academy work hard everyday to improve the basics of the 350 trainees who are divided into tiny tots, beginners and seniors. “ We try to motivate and improve the focus the children as they are growing”, says Mr Srikanth, a part time coach in the academy. Good game culture is inculcated into every student, with topspin groundstrokes being taught here, moving away from the traditional flat groundstrokes.
The only drawback of the academy is that there is an age limit of 16 years. “It is only a school for juniors, I would call us a kindergarten school”, jokes Mr Narayanan, who is a chartered accountant by profession. The academy also conducts clinics by international coaches to expose the students to different skills and techniques.
Equipped with 11 courts, inclusive of a synthetic one, the Triangle Tennis Trust has been able to adapt itself to the changes in the game over the years successfully. But there is always room for improvement. According to Mr Narayanan it has to be a more whole scale setup rather than a standalone tennis academy. “ We are looking to include a gym, and need an athletic track for physical training”, he adds.