“Sammy Speaks” is a 7 part blog series with South Asian Games Gold Medalist – Sathwika Sama. Over the course of the next seven weeks, Sathwika will share details of her journey/experiences in the international tennis circuit
After reading my first three blogs, I am sure people know that I want an indoor tennis centre with great facilities for recovery and amazing technology. However, what is the point of all this if there are no professional tournaments in our beloved country?
Based on the majority of countries, I think it is now a well-known fact that if India hosts 20 professional ITF Futures events every year, it almost assures us of 5-10 Top 300 players in a span of a few years. This is huge because as of today, on the WTA circuit, there is one Indian lady who has made a name from playing tennis professionally. Her name? Sania Mirza. This needs to change and below are the reasons on how it will help my fellow players and I if India could host more ITF Futures events.
1. At the lowest level of tournaments i.e. Futures, the aim is survival and minimising losses. Holding a number of such events in India will give a platform for young, elder and even injured players who need to know ASAP if they have any future in these Futures. My point here is that it builds a solid platform and a system for growth which is essential for players and parents to have a vision. After training so hard in a number of academies all over India, it is fair to say that they at least have a chance. From here on, some will progress to higher ranks of WTA Events and eventually onto the main WTA tour and then could we see a Grand Slam Champion from amongst our midst? Maybe, just maybe.
2. Just like in football, playing at home is a gigantic advantage. To have players from all over the world come to India and play in our conditions gives us a huge home advantage. We are much more acclimatised to the weather, we know the balls and we would also have the support of our people. I strongly believe if you want to make other sporting icons barring cricket – spectators should see the blood, sweat and tears of WTA tennis and international competition regularly in India. We would also feel motivated to know that we are being followed and appreciated rather than most people asking- “Ok tennis is great but what else do you do?”
3. Lastly, the most relevant point about the lower rungs of tennis is the money. We pay for our own flights, visas, hotels, entry fee and support staff even before we get our one hundred dollar first round cheque. Only winning the tournament allows us a little room to break even so the only motivating factor here is the points and the ability to rise up the rankings. How much easier and cheaper would it be if we just had events in our home country! Lots of countries in Europe and USA have 30 futures every year. Even a small country like Egypt has numerous events so there is no reason why India cannot. On average, we need to schedule 30 tournaments a year at an average of 50 Thousand Rupees a week as expenses at the Futures level. In a country with a lot of less fortunate people, it is vital that we provide equal opportunity. Each family is losing a minimum of 25 lakhs a year if their daughter turns pro and hence we lose a lot of players even before they start.
Now the real question arises:
- Who will sponsor this venture?
- Who will be the savior of Indian tennis?
- Will we ever come together in an individual sport to really grow as Team India with these huge steps?
All these questions need to be answered soon and I hope they will be.
Keep smiling as the sun will shine tomorrow 😊
Have a safe weekend. I’ll be back. 😉