“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
Today, I would like to explain in a semi positive episode the real underlying web we all face as part of the Indian tennis fraternity. In general, we are under televised, very poorly funded and relatively unknown especially compared to some other Indian sports. The sooner we understand that these other sports that India is extremely good at are actually played by very few countries, the sooner India will gain appreciation for a truly Global sport such as Tennis.
The four Grand Slams are the holy grails of World Tennis. The absolute cream of the crop in our sport qualify for these events and it takes years of pain and hard work for an Indian to reach this level. The amazing part of this and a thought that still baffles me is that even though there are Indians playing in the Qualifying and Main Draw of Singles and Doubles at all these events, we never get to watch them play on television. These players are heroes of world tennis and ones that should be celebrated with pride in our homeland. TV channels that televise Grand Slams should have a mandatory rule that when an Indian is playing, they are obliged to televise their matches LIVE in India. This will bring an awareness amongst the general public about our sport and motivate more people to take it up.
The reason why this is a web is because unless these top Indian players are known and followed in India – NO sponsor will want to invest. As of today, they would get zero mileage in investing in an Indian Grand Slam athlete as they are barely known and never televised which is a terrible marketing ploy for any company. After all, they are running a business and will expect to get something back from their investment into Indian tennis. We need to change both these aspects of funding and televising to make tennis a major Indian sport.
The final point is that televising and funding could lead to much more recognition for the Indian Tennis Fraternity, which could mean more leagues, more professional home tournaments and also many more Indoor centres. It is often amazing to think how fast this Domino effect took place in Indian cricket and the best thing that the IPL has done today is give one thousand Indians a serious alternative sporting career option. Well done!
There exists another option. If we just want to wait for years together and play the numbers game, we can only pray that in the next few years, somebody is born in India with the natural talent and skill of either a Roger Federer or a Serena Williams. Which, going by previous statistics, seems HIGHLY unlikely.
Keep smiling as the sun will shine tomorrow 😊
Have a safe weekend.