The International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments are a testing ground for all players who chase the dream to play on the bigger stage of the game like the ATP or WTA. The city, thanks to Pheonix Live in collaboration with DRC Sports Foundation, hosted as many as six such tournaments, three each in men and women categories at Leonia Holistic Destination, Shameerpet. DRC Kiron and his team of officials conducted as many 516 matches in the past few weeks with the last of women’s ITF concluding on Saturday.
“These ITF tournaments give opportunities to fringe players. More importantly, Indians and local players get a chance to test their skills, gain experience, improve their game and collect a few important points,” said Kiron.
Space for foreign players
The six ITF tournaments even attracted foreign entries (men and women). Hyderabad, when compared to other cities in the world, is comparatively cheap. To play in the tournament here, it was mere $40 for stay and food as compared to $100 to $120 at many other places.
Fatma Al Nabhani, from Muscat participated in the tournament for one reason that it is the closest destination from her place. She won the second leg and is already in the semi-final of the final leg. With not much tennis activity for women players in her country, Fatma, who is trained by her mother Hadia Mustafa, is pleased with the courts and the facilities.
Better chance for Hyderabadis
To give the Indians and Hyderabadis a better chance, Kiron even made it a 48-draw event instead of the usual 32-draw. “Many of them were first timers in ITF. For instance three girls, who just turned 14, had the opportunity to play. It was a great learning experience for someone like Harsha Sai Challa, Sai Shivani, Kondavetti Anuska,” explained Kiron.
The success of Sania Mirza has seen a sudden rise in the number of coaching centres. In the city, there are 96 coaching centres and many of them look forward to these type of tournaments in the hope of their wards making a mark. Young Nidhi Chilumula agrees that a number of young players have been inspired by Sania. “She has taken the game to a new high and has stirred interest. We are all aware that there is a lot of hard work that too Sania to the top. But what is important is that Sania has laid the road map for all of us. It is up to us how we take up the challenge,’’ said Nidhi, who trains at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy (SMTA). She also added that it is a privilege for us to get tips from Sania herself. “The most important thing we learn from Sania is mental toughness. That is the key to success on international circuit. It is about shot selection, when and how to play,” said Nidhi, who is ranked eighth in the country.