Tennis is such a funny game you wouldn’t believe it if I told you that the score ‘Love’ actually comes from the French word L’Oeuf meaning egg as in Aanda in Hindi, each match beginning with a score of Love-Love. And that is exactly how I feel about this game.
If anyone were to ask me why in a cricket crazy country I love tennis, I would be left scratching my head, as I would find it very difficult to answer that question. What is it that draws me to Tennis I’ve often wondered but have never been able to come up with a concrete answer. I do know this though that I love it enough to have endured two surgeries, Suraspinatus Tendonitis on the shoulder in 2010 and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgery on the knee in 2018, and still gone 6 months ago to train at the Novak Djokovic Tennis Academy in Belgrade, Serbia. What an experience it was playing tennis in a top notch academy with world class facilities. The thrill of gripping a tennis racquet in hand, waiting for the volley of balls from the opponent, on a green court under the blue sky, it can only be experienced, not described.
I have had some of the most memorable experiences on the tennis court like when I chanced to meet Naseeruddin Shah at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association in Bangalore and we played a couple of sets, followed by breakfast at MTR, but that is another story for another day.
Some of my best friendships were made on the tennis court and whenever I travel I make it a point to include tennis into my schedule, be it overseas or in India. Sometimes I wonder if I travel on work or if I travel to play tennis. Central Park New York, Russia, China Southeast Asia I have played tennis in most of the countries I visited, that is how crazy I am about this game.
Even the pandemic didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, I still go on most days early in the morning for couple of rounds.
Tennis in India is another story altogether you should see our courts brimming and teaming with players. A court on which typically two players play, we have over 12 aspirants coaching, I laughingly call Indian tennis Jugadu tennis.
In a country where resources are meagre and focus on sports even lesser it will take considerable effort from the government and the people to reach world class standards. As a small drop from my side I’ve recently donated a state of the art tennis court to my village Sirohi in Rajasthan, with the hope that with facilities available, an interest in the game becomes inevitable.
I can’t end this post without a mention of Corona, the incidence of which is increasing across the country. Just like Jugadu tennis our healthcare facilities are stretched and I am sure the same jugaad is there in our hospitals for beds, ventilators, medication, doctors, nurses, lab technicians etc. Yes on many fronts we have a long way to go but every journey must start with a single step.
Opinions in this piece belong to the author: Ramesh Kumar Shah
Ramesh Kumar Shah is the founder of the RK Group, founder of RK Trust (rktrust.in) and co-founder of Harvard Business School Angels of India. Apart from being a businessman, he is keenly involved in making as much of a difference in people’s lives as he can, most recently through the Let’s Mask India initiative, that provides a free mask to all the residents of Bangalore.