Doing her bit for tennis

Giving back to the game... Sania Mirza at her tennis academy in Hyderabad.-V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Sania Mirza, 26, has started a tennis academy in Murtuzaguda, which is a 20-minute drive from the posh Jubilee Hills locality in Hyderabad. Situated in a serene setting, the academy has been her dream project.

The two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles title winner expects the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy to become the hub of tennis activity in not only India but the Asian region as well.

“This is a dream project that has been there for quite some time. More so because of my parents who love the sport so much and groomed me so well despite a lot of hardship,” said Sania after her first informal training session with the first batch of trainees at the academy.

The academy built on a site measuring six acres, with nine synthetic courts and three clay courts, which are coming up, has sprung up without any financial assistance. “It is all by the Mirzas,” Sania said.

“There is no better way to share my experiences with the next generation. Oh! It was an exciting feeling to be out there on these new courts and teach a few points to these young players,” she said.

“It is an amazing first-time experience to be the coach albeit briefly,” she added.

Talking of her plans, Sania said: “I am keen to ensure that the legacy goes on with some effort from my side. The beauty of the academy is that it is not just for those who take up tennis as a profession but also for those who love to play tennis and stay fit. The academy is for all age groups. In fact, we have separate plans to cater to each category of the section because time and courts are not a constraint.

“The sport itself got a major fillip in India in the last decade or so. So, the objective of the academy is to sustain that momentum and lure more and more youngsters to the sport, especially girls.

“We are going to focus more on rural talent which invariably has drifted away for want of desired training facilities.”

With regard to the academy’s financial management, Sania said everything was in place. “It has come on our own land and with no financial funding from anywhere,” she said. “But, we will surely look out for corporate sponsorship in future for obvious reasons. It is not that easy to maintain an academy of this standard as we are also hiring professional coaches from abroad.

“We want it to grow bigger and meet the aspirations of many,” Sania added.

V. V. Subrahmanyam