Fair play primed on first day of AITA Trust Scholarship Program

The selection trails for the AITA Trust Scholarship Program began smoothly at the DLTA Complex in New Delhi with the country's experienced coaches evaluating youngsters on the basis of competitiveness and behaviour.

Coaches, officials and players pose for a group photo on the first day of the AITA Trust Scholarship Program.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

It was a smooth start and sound advice for the young players and their parents at the AITA Trust Scholarship Program camp, at the DLTA Complex in New Delhi, on Friday.

Davis Cupper and the Fed Cup team captain Vishaal Uppal made it clear that the scores and results would only be one of the many factors to be considered for selection. Fed Cup coach Ankita Bhambri told the players to relax and enjoy their tennis, so that they are able to perform at their best.

Former national coach, the much-experienced Balram Singh, the head of a big tennis family in the capital, advised the parents not to neglect the education of their children in pursuit of a tennis career.

"Education is very important for the development of a player, and the kids will lose confidence if they don’t get good education," said Balram Singh.

Every aspect of their game and behaviour, while in victory and defeat, when they are playing at their best and when they are not that good, would all be noted, the players were told in clear terms.

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Ankita said that it was a great chance for the players to make friends as they would keep meeting them in the circuit, and they can all grow together.

On behalf of the AITA Trust, Prashant Menon said that the players were welcome to make the most of the facility during their stay.

Coaches Kulwant Singh and Ravneet Singh were entrusted the responsibility of making the draw, conducting and supervising the matches.

Coaches and officials, (from left) Nar Singh, Ankita Bhambri, Vishaal Uppal, V. K. Batra, Balram Singh and Prashant Menon, address the players during the start of the AITA Trust scholarship scheme in Delhi on Friday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

 

The players were told that their line calls would be monitored and they need to be honest, irrespective of the situation in a match.

Vishaal Uppal was categorical in stressing that it would be a holistic process, looking at every aspect of a player, when the scholarships were decided for 50% of the assembled 32 players from 15 State units.

Another seasoned coach Nar Singh, who has rich experience of guiding the Indian junior teams in many events over the years, requested the players to capitalise on the immense knowledge of the trio of selection committee.

"It is a challenge to play good tennis in adverse situation," warned Ankita.

The 16 boys and 16 girls were divided into four groups each. They will all play on a league basis in the group, in the 'best of 13 games' format.

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Thereafter, all the No.1 players will get into one group, the No.2 in the second group, etc. for another spell of matches.

The matches were kept short to help the young players tackle the heat and humidity on the hard courts, with minimal physical strain.

On the last two days, there will be a fitness test which would also demand good physical condition of the players after a series of matches.

"We will also look at how hungry are you to become a world class player," Vishaal Uppal said.

Talking to the parents, both as a parent and coach, Balram Singh suggested that the children should be handled with care, especially when they lose a match.

"Don’t talk to the child immediately. Talk later," said Balram.

Some of the players have already represented the country, are ranked in the top-10 in their age group, and are ready to compete in events like the Road to Wimbledon, the UK U14 Championship in Wimbledon.

Yet, it will be a challenge for the selection panel to identify the best eight boys and eight girls for Rs.100,000 scholarship per year.