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MBTA launch inter-school tourney in partnership with HCL


New Delhi:  To give a fillip to the game of tennis at the grassroots level, Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy (MBTA) and IT giants HCL have joined hands and their association will begin with an inter-school tournament, beginning July 27 here.

“There is a lot of talent in the North. Kids from 30-35 schools from the NCR region are going to participate in the tournament, which will be held at R K Khanna Tennis stadium,” Gaurav Natekar, MBTA CEO, said at a press conference.

The incentive for the winner would be a one-week training at Schuttler Waske Tennis University in Germany, where junior doubles Wimbledon champion Sumit Nagal has been training for the last one year.

“The cost of the travel and stay will be borne by HCL,” Sundar Mahalingam, Chief Strategy Officer, HCL, said.

Natekar, a former India player, added that the runner-up would get an opportunity to train at MBTA centre in Cochin, where they have an indoor facility.

Natekar said since it is the first year there was no selection done as to which school can participate.

“We want to tap the talent. We invited schools in excess of 100 for the tournament. But there are challenges like many schools were not allowing their students to come and participate in this tournament,” he said.

Asked if it will be long-term association, Natekar said, “We are taking baby steps. We don’t know. It will evolve with time.

“We are looking at other cities as well. It may be nationwide programme. There is no clear picture as such,” added Natekar.

Natekar also made it clear that Nagal was being supported solely by Bhupathi and MBTA had no role in his success.

“MBTA can’t take credit for that. Nagal trained with us in Bangalore in one of the programmes but when the sponsors crunch happened, Mahesh personally took him under his wings and found sponsors for him,” Natekar clarified.

Speaking about lack of singles talent in the country, Natekar said that scarcity of sponsorship for players during the transition period from junior to senior level along with quality coaching was one of reasons for the dismal scene.

Natekar said no one should demean Nagal’s achievement even if it has come in doubles.

Bhupathi, who was not present at the press conference, said through a release, “We want to create a solid home ground for young tennis aspirants. With AITA and Sports Ministry already doing a fair bit for tennis, we hope that this initiative by HCL and MBTA will further strengthen the quality of junior players that are churbed out for India.”

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