Indian tennis flourishes in the USA thanks to a robust collegiate program. Multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi who honed his game for two years there and Somdev Devvarman, who won the NCAA singles title twice before jumping back into the pro circuit with distinction, are the shining examples in recent times.
However, it is not that common to find an Indian tennis coach entering the Hall of Fame in the USA, the way the former national champion Bidyut Goswami did in the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame recently, after serving the University for 37 years.
“I feel very blessed to have had a career that I always was very passionate about”, said Bidyut, when contacted by Sportstar.
He gave full credit to his parents for letting him choose a profession which was “not that prudent” in the 1970s.
“My father, a judge in the Supreme Court, gave his blessings by saying, ‘Do the best you can in whatever you want to do’. I was very fortunate to be the Head coach at Columbia University without any previous experience”, recalled Bidyut, who hails from Assam.
“I have to thank the committee and the Athletic Director for having the courage to hire an inexperienced coach. And after 37 years, and with the induction into the Columbia University’s Athletics Hall of Fame, I feel, I justified that decision and their faith”, said Bidyut, who graduated from the St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata in 1973.
He also gave full credit to the “amazing players” who helped the University win several Ivy titles and also won him the “National Coach of the year award in all of collegiate tennis in the USA” in his final year in 2019.
“As I said in my speech, I was happy to accept the induction on behalf of all my players starting from 1982. All my players graduated with high honors and have become a very important part of society. This includes a lot of great Indian juniors who played for me”, he said.
He does keep track of Indian tennis and is “always very proud when they do well”. He watches the Indian players at the US Open regularly and “root them on”.
Bidyut was visiting India regularly “till covid happened”.
“All my siblings and relatives are in India. A few of the juniors who I grew up with are very close to where I live. One of them, former national champion Gaurav Misra also worked with me at Columbia, and that was the cherry on the cake. I do keep in touch with a lot of former tennis players living in India and other parts of the world”, he said.
A player and coach from a different era, who was loyal to Columbia University, Bidyut did repay their faith in a resounding fashion with a sterling career of tennis development.
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