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Monday, January 24, 2005


The self-congratulatory paeans that are being sold by the kilo on all forms of media reestablishes the notion that Indians are starved for success-- any form or shape of a whiff is welcome. While we must revel in whatever we do achieve, on and off the courtside, perhaps it is also educational to reflect on some facets of what underpin this elusive end.

I will try and restrict my diatribe only to tennis, being possibly other than pillow-fighting, marbles and gulli danda , the only sport that I truly like/have any pretense of knowledge about. ( Ed: But Lacrosse on horseback or Norse golf must come a close second !)

For one, the lass entered on a wild card. That itself has been the precursor to exalted feats, circa Ivanisevic, Denmark and dare I say it some Hon. PMs .
In the sporting arena, it only forebodes the ineluctable fact that our lass is not in the Top 96 as detailed by the WTA. The reasons for this are manifold, but on the whole, the Ranking enjoyed is a good indicator of a player’s current playing ability. The only caviling that we have accepted is when Rios became World No. 1 without winning a Grand Slam, or when Cjlisters managed something similar.

I will now hark to her age, which is a perfectly good age to bloom in all walks of life. But I cannot but point out feebly that Hingis, Serena herself among a host of others had shown enough mettle at a much younger age—in singles and doubles—Hingis won the US Open Doubles with Sukova much before she tasted Singles success. So maybe her best is already past her—horrible thing to say!

Her play is unremarkable—a Ball Toss that is subject to severe vicissitudes of temperament and wind, and is not supportive of any good setting up opportunities. It’s a stand alone in the sense that it is bereft of any sort of consistency and authority. The groundstrokes are the best part of her game –a nice Howitzer forehand that is partly offset by a steady and unspectacular backhand. Again, there will be taller girls .

What I am concerned about is her mobility. In the Ladies game, it is simply not good enough to blaze away from the baseline in the forlorn hope of outright winners. This devil-may-care glint will have to be tempered in the years to come.

Finally, her volley is a work of fiction.

The much-vaunted Doubles win at Wimbledon is at best salutary, at its worst, inconsequential. I mean, ask Gael Monfils what he feels about the doubles game.

The Indian tennis scene ever since I’ve followed the game—from the days of Enrico Piperno, S Narendranath, Nandan Bal , S Vasudevan , Zeeshan Ali , Asif Ismail, Natekar & Paes to the u-18 era of Rohit Reddy, Akash Lamba, Rohit Rajpal , the Kirtanes has been plagued by abominably low standards to aim at. Even in the ladies’, Rushmi C, Aarti Venkatraman, Sai Jailakshmi, and now the likes of the Bhambiri sisters, the Lakhanis, Manisha Malhotra have always been in the quarters of any Indian event without brooking any opposition. The best among them, Peggy Zaman and Divya Merchant did not even bother to stay on in India. The other malaise is that it is only a passport to the wretched US of A, hence my utter contempt for the likes of those who play here with the sole intent of converting this to a Green Card , or whatever scrap their citizenship entails. I am not sure that she is any different.

There is a more than an undercurrent of a “attitude” in her confident gait and her garbled speech. She knows she is important and for her sake, I hope that false fame and transient success don’t go to her head. Yes, she is the ambassador for the Girl Child and what a huge responsibility that engenders. I wish her and her ilk well.

And finally, Mandrula would have lost to a baby giraffe in the second round had the giraffe wielded a tennis racquet.


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