HYDERABAD: When one talks about tennis in India, names like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, and Sania Mirza come up instantly, but little do the fans know about the people who work behind the scenes — the match officials.
Shivakumar Reddy, who hails from Hyderabad, is a white badge holder (4th highest level of certification for officials) and has officiated in tournaments like Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, ATP world tour and WTA world tour, in the capacity of chair-umpire and line umpire. But barely does anyone know about his eventful journey.
Now the 34-year-old, who started officiating in 1999, is limbering up for a big occasion, Wimbledon. Reddy is set to become the first official from Telangana to be a part of The Championships.
“It has been a long journey for me, but a satisfying one. When you are called for officiating in a tournament of this stature, it’s a big achievement. I would be part of the qualifying rounds and will be a line umpire there. If I do well, maybe I could be asked to officiate in the main draws as well,” Reddy told Express.
This is the first time that he will be a part of a Grand Slam, and realises the challenges that await him. In fact, Reddy has been training for the same for the past ten days, and wants to give it his best shot as this is the biggest moment of his career. “I have been into umpiring for a very long time. But you do not want to make any mistake on the grandest stage of all. So I’ve been reading rule books, watching videos on Youtube, that will help me.”
Once a regular in ITF circuit as a player from 1992 to 2004, Shivakumar had taken up umpiring to support his training. “I took up umpiring to support my career as a player. But that wasn’t enough. I didn’t get sponsors in the right time. So I took to umpiring full time as I wanted to be associated with the game,” he added.
Reddy will fly to England on June 25, and will be accompanied by six other Indian officials — Nitin Kannamwar, Abhishek Mukherjee, Saibal Bannerjee, Satish Venkateshan, Amit Deshpande and Leela Nageshwar.
“There are other Indian officials as well who’d be a part of the tournament, and their presence will motivate me to do well.”