Stephen Amritraj, a former tennis player himself, can be seen being a hands-on husband, helping his wife, WTA Chennai Open’s top seed and world number 25, Alison Riske-Amritraj, as she practises ahead of the tournament.
“It's a very special trip for both of us, it's wonderful that this tournament has come to Chennai, our hometown," he said.
“It’s like a homecoming,” he adds, “I was lucky enough to have brought Alison here to meet my grandmother in 2016, so it's great to have her here again. I haven't been back here myself.”
“It’s great for women’s tennis in India and the next generation of players in the country.”Stephen Amritraj on WTA 250 Chennai Open happening in India
The Amritrajs plan on splitting their time in Chennai, between playing tennis and catching up with family. However, Stephen agrees that "socialising is going to get less as the week gets closer,” with Alison being the top seed.
“Not just the U.S Open it was a good summer all around, she’s reached the round of 16 in the last three events that she played. I think she is playing really well, which should help her here,” he says.
Alison had her first hit at the venue on Friday, which meant she only had three days between playing her Round of 16 match at the U.S Open on Monday and then catching a flight to India.
"The next two three-four days is just about getting comfortable and getting used to playing here,” says Stephen.
While Stephen speaks about match-ups and Alison’s preparation, if one were to overhear his conversations at the venue, you’d know he was wearing two hats.
One, being a support crew for Alison and the other, being a helping hand of sorts to his uncle, India’s tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, the chief tournament organiser here.
“There are some very good players here who beat Alison this year. Linda Fruhvirtova from the Czech Republic is very good, then there’s Tatjana Maria, this year's Wimbledon semifinalist,” he adds.
On being asked about Caroline Garcia withdrawing -- the U.S Open quarterfinalist who beat Alison and was slated to be the top seed at the Chennai Open -- he seems to put on the organiser’s hat.
“We just want the best field here that we can have. If you see, Bouchard (Eugenie Bouchard) is a grand slam finalist, Podoroska (Nadia Podoroska) and Wickmayer (Yanina Wickmayer) are grand slam semifinalists. It's great for women's tennis in India and the next generation of players in the country.”
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