Kolkata: Akhtar Ali could not help but shed a tear of joy. After all, the man had served Indian tennis for a long time and for him to see young talent unravel who would take over the mantle of Indian tennis was no better than a gift. The AITA Super Series Junior Tennis Tournament came to an end on Saturday and as was expected, some supremely talented youngsters emerged as the winners of this tournament. And the Calcutta South Club was witness to the spectacular prize distribution ceremony.
The winners from each category had to go through some intense competition before they could finally get their hands on the gold. The winners from each category were – Rhythm Malhotra (Boys U-16), Rutuparna Choudhury (Girls U-16), Rudra Kapoor (Boys U-14) and Sunskrithi Damera (Girls U-14). They were handed over the trophies by tennis legend, Naresh Kumar, industrialist, Sanjay Budhia and MP, Prasun Banerjee to name a few.
Banerjee hailed the efforts of Ali calling him, “The Father Of Indian Tennis.” He said, “Although I never played tennis, I can still say that this has been a very good initiative taken by Akhtar bhai. To me, he is the father of Indian tennis. I hope that this tournament attains new heights next year and I promise to support this initiative wholeheartedly.”
Kumar stressed on the need to maintain proper fitness levels to succeed in tennis. He congratulated the winners but also said that the ones who didn’t succeed needed to think as to why they failed and come back stronger the next year. He said, “You have to stay fit to stay in the game today. My heartiest congratulations to the winners but those who didn’t win will have to identify their flaws and weaknesses and come back strongly the next year.” Kumar also congratulated the Ali family on their efforts to consistently conduct such a successful tournament every year. He said, “I congratulate the Ali family too for their efforts to bring to us this tournament every year. Well done to them.”
The director of this competition, Ali became a bit emotional as he could see the future of Indian tennis unfold right in front of him. He said, “This is extremely special. My daughter Nilofer has worked so hard for this tournament. South Club is actually a very good place where these youngsters can develop their game. I thank ITC for supporting this tournament for 19 years now and I’m happy for the young people who participated in this tournament.”
The happy victors were busy posing for photographs when SportsCrunch caught up with Rhythm, the winner from the U-16 category for boys. Rhythm was touted as one of the favourites entering into the tournament and he was happy that he justified that tag of his. He said, “I am very happy. This win is very motivating. I am certainly looking forward to play better matches.”