The high praise that Vijay Amritraj showers on PL Reddy in his autobiography is the perfect testimony to a man who did much to improve tennis facilities in India during his tenure as AITA secretary from 1984 to 1988.
Indeed PL, as he was popularly known, did much to bridge the yawning gap between players and administrators. Before he took over, there was a mutual distrust between the two parties. PL, by his friendly personality and open ways, helped to draw the players to the association instead of having them feel alienated by it. He established a spontaneous rapport with the senior players, while juniors were encouraged at every level.
Many junior programmes were instigated and PL was instrumental in bringing artificial surfaces into India so that the players could practise on the kind of courts that they might find when they travelled abroad. PL also played a leading role in helping to establish the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy (BAT) in Madras in 1985.
PL’s highpoint was India making the Davis Cup final most unexpectedly in 1987. He was the manager and it was his dedication and attention to every detail that played a great part in the upset victory over Australia at Sydney in the semifinal. PL’s willingness in making the Californian coach Gene Malin feel a member of the team helped inject a new attitude and a sense of purpose in the training.
As Vijay said, “We all got along and we all had fun and inevitably this was translated into better performances on court so much so that a team which on paper was nowhere near in being the second best team in the world made it all the way through to the final. Team spirit played a large part in that and PL was our leader.’’
The press never had any complaints against PL for he was always ready to oblige with any relevant information. However, he was careful not to make controversial statements or sensationalise events. “Only co-operation, no confrontation’’ was his motto and he was responsible for working out solutions through compromise.
While drawing up any project, PL had just two questions — will it benefit the game? Will it benefit the players? All this came naturally to him as he was an exceptionally pleasant, helpful, straightforward and selfless individual. A dedicated and dynamic administrator, PL was a regular at the Chennai Open and will be sorely missed in tennis circles.