Pro Tennis League: Kamlesh leads Fanatics to victory

Kamlesh Shukla won two doubles matches with Tour professional Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, to give Tennis Fanatics a winning start.

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Kamlesh Shukla of Tennis Fanatics in action against Sankara Aces.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

He may be the coach of the newly crowned national champion Siddharth Vishwakarma, but Kamlesh Shukla showed that he still can play as he won two doubles matches, including the decisive one with Tour professional Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, to give Tennis Fanatics a winning start in the Pro Tennis League at the RK Khanna Stadium here on Tuesday.

In his best days, Kamlesh had played the Challengers at home, and had in fact played against the country’s No.1 then, Leander Paes, 20 years earlier, when he used to sport a pony tail. Mature, but fit, Kamlesh played a nice fluent game to provide the winning touch for Tennis Fanatics.

It was indeed a festive and colourful start for the event, with the school kids performing nicely to vibrant music right from the inauguration, but as the contest hotted up on the cold evening, it was hard to sustain the atmosphere.

It did not affect the players though, especially the juniors who were understandably nervous and tried too hard to highlight their game. Yet, in the company of the professionals and veterans, they performed better.

Of course, the key to the winning start for Fanatics was the composure and efficiency that Kamlesh Shukla showed in striking a splendid combination with Jeevan, against Sidharth Rawat and the wily Nitten Kirrtane, in the fifth rubber with the teams locked 2-2.

Jeevan and Kamlesh won the fifth rubber 6-1, after VM Ranjeet had won two of his doubles matches, one with Kamlesh and the other with the young Kabir Hans. The juniors had given a good start with Dipin Wadhwa winning the tie-break 10-3 against Kabir in the opening rubber to put Sankara Aces ahead.

Sidharth Rawat who plays high quality singles as he competes regularly in the Challenger circuit was teased by the doubles specialist Jeevan, before he prevailed 6-4 in the third rubber.

Jeevan had warmed up nicely in that match, to be ready for an entertaining climax with Kamlesh.

The results:

Tennis Fanatics bt Sankara Aces 3-2 (Kabir Hans lost to Dipin Wadhwa 6-7(3-10); VM  Ranjeet & Kamlesh Shukla bt Nitten Kirrtane & Tushar Jagota 6-4; Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan lost to Sidharth Rawat 4-6; Kabir Hans & VM Ranjeet bt Dipin Wadhwa & Tushar Jagota 6-2; Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan & Kamlesh Shukla bt Sidharth Rawat & Nitten Kirrtane 6-1).