CHENNAI: With Europe slowly emerging from lockdown in phases, live sport is coming back from the wilderness. Even though the Adria Tour faced significant flak, smaller level exhibition events continue to take place. In Germany for instance, a meet took place last weekend in Pinneberg, near Hamburg, where India No 1 Sumit Nagal emerged triumphant against Daniel Masur in the final.
Nagal, the only frontline player from the country who opted to stay put in Europe rather than returning, said he took part in the event ostensibly to keep paying his bills. In an interview with this daily, he also spoke about the measures at Pinneberg Tennis Club (some 20 kms north of Hamburg) during the event, how he has been managing his income and why he has no plans to come to India in the near future.
How has it been like living in Peine (a small town near Hanover), have the effects of the pandemic been felt there?
It has been okay in Peine, it’s a small town of only 30,000. I get to stay in the academy (he lives and trains at the Nencel academy), which is one remote corner and nobody comes in except us. So it’s the perfect place to train and stay in a situation like this. Around Munich it was pretty bad but overall Germany is not doing too bad at the moment.
When did you come to know of this opportunity?
I have been training since mid April but not played competition tennis in three months. So when a friend told me about this, I signed up. It was a decent field too. It was just me saying, ‘let’s get out of Peine to play in a tournament’, to have a feel of that competitive environment. Besides, the place is great... everything just clicked.
What were the measures in place to control the virus?
There were no ball boys, everyone who came was checked (for fever and so on) and everything inside the club was being sanitised regularly. It also helped that there was may be a maximum of 50-60 people inside the club in total so there was no problems in practising physical distancing.
Have you had to dip into your savings yet?
Yes (laughs) a big dip into my savings, let me tell you that. If it goes on like this for the next few months, there won’t be any left. It’s vital to play a few meets, and that’s also why I played here... I have to pay my bills. Sure, I haven’t taken any flights but there are other expenses. When I was playing, I was making money. Now, I am going in minus every month.
Have you signed up for any more tournaments?
I haven’t signed up for anything yet. I am looking to play something in 2-3 weeks’ time, whatever is possible.
Any plans of coming back?
I will definitely not be coming to India any time soon. The cases are getting worse. Plus, if I come, I have to quarantine. And when I get back to Europe, I will have to quarantine again, so I will lose a lot of days.