CHENNAI: Three generations of tennis players. From the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan to Ramkumar Ramanathan, they all assembled at the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association’s ‘Celebrate Tennis’ function on Sunday.
All former Davis Cup players welcomed the TNTA’s initiative to have a WTA event in the city in 2020. They believed the ‘Mecca of Indian Tennis’ should have an international tournament at any cost.
“It’s a fantastic move. There is nothing like having an international tournament. It will be a big boost for women’s tennis. If the TNTA manages to get two or three players from the top 10, it will be great. Children will also be inspired,’’ said S Vasudevan, who is now a coach in Switzerland.
“If they can schedule it like the Chennai Open, which was like a stopover for practice for many before the Australian Open, it will be good as many will be keen to play in conditions that are similar to Australia.”
Former Davis Cup captain Ramesh Krishnan believes irrespective of when the tournament is held, it will be well received.
“I welcome the initiative. The timing will depend on the ITF calendar. In the past the Chennai Open was held in April and the response was good. So whenever we have the tournament, it will be a boost for the game,’’ opined Ramesh.
Former TNTA presidents N Sankar, N Murali, V Narayanan were present at the function and honoured with mementos. Former India No 1 Nirupama Sanjeev batted for women’s tennis.
“Our generation did not have the facilities or exposure that the current generation has. Apart from Sania Mirza, two-three players are doing well. This augurs well for the sport. A WTA event will do a world of good for women’s tennis. They had a women’s event in Bengaluru. But I believe Chennai is the best place to have a major event. The city is sports loving and the crowd knowledgeable. When it happens, our players must utilise the opportunity,’’ said Nirupama.
Ramkumar and Prajnesh Gunneswaran were the sought after figures.
All junior players, right from the likes of VM Sandeep to all those who did well for the state in various age groups and those who won medals in the physically challenged category, were feted by Vijay Amritraj, president of TNTA.
It was heartening to see Maggie Amritraj, mother of Vijay and Anand, attend the function on a wheelchair with oxygen cylinder.
The proud mother saw her sons being felicitated. Paintings by L Ramachandran were auctioned to raise funds for the association.