“I am proud of my Indian Heritage. If I can inspire one more person to play, will be fantastic” – Rajeev Ram

Indian Tennis Daily (ITD) caught up with Rajeev Ram on the sidelines of the Rajeev Ram Foundation Indy Challenger as Pro Tennis comes back to Indiana state.

Congratulations on the successful return of professional tennis to Indiana – what does it mean to you?

Its a lot of hard work from a lot of people, not just myself. We had a tourney here when I was growing up as a kid and it had inspired me to take up the sport after watching some of the best players in the world. The idea that it is possible now through this event for some of the kids here is great and for the community in general. To be part of it is something special for me. 

Can you put a spotlight on some of the key members who made this happen?

Firstly to the USTA for enabling the spot on the tennis calendar. USTA has a representative named Troy Hahn of my age group. My whole board from Rajeev Ram Foundation and one of them is the Tournament Director here. 

We have a couple of people really important in terms of the finances because without the finances, it would not really be possible. Importantly, Pearson Automative Tennis Club donated its facility of 8 Tennis Courts for this challenger to be organised. 

So overall we have quite a few people playing a keyrole in having this organised. 

What are your longer term plans for the Rajeev Ram Foundation – Any other programs planned?

We do grants for Tennis players of all age groups in Indiana. We are planning to keep it moving forward. As far as this tournament is concerned – this is our first year. We are going to do it to the best of our ability this year and see how it goes. Ideally we would continue and to grow this event but we are also aware that we do not want to run an event that is not quality. So we will see what it is like after it is over. 

We also have local junior Nishesh Basavareddy make his challenger debut. Any thoughts on his performance?

Nishesh Basavareddy is a big brightspot for American Tennis and for the Indian Community as he is a first generation from India. Personally I have known him since the age of 8 and been close to him for a long time. I`d like to think if there was a mentor sort of role – I have done that in part for Nishesh. Then to see how good he has become to play at the Junior Slams. Its cool to see someone who lives by the other road reach that level – we met in Paris at the French Open, then in London at the Wimbleson Championships. 

Getting to watch him play at the biggest tennis tournaments in the world is a real pleasure. 

How are you juggling your responsibilities – Top ranked doubles and Rajeev Ram Foundation. 

I have a great team focusing on the Rajeev Ram Foundation along with me. It is time consuming for them for sure where as for me, I am involved on the periphery as I am traveling a lot for Tennis. Obviously my no.1 goal is to play and compete at the highest level. So they are all understanding and supportive of that goal. 

Its great to be able to do all this other stuff while I still have the platform I guess. Hopefully can build on it so that when I am done with tennis in the future, can build on it. 

You are pairing up with Jack Sock next week at Atlanta. Any thoughts on this pairing.

Jack Sock is my Davis Cup partner. We played in Turin last year in the Davis Cup matches. We thought about getting a week in together before as a preparation. Davis Cup is hugely important for us and the more time we can spend time on the court together, the better. 

Any message for your followers from India?

I am very proud to be off Indian Heritage and represent the community in any way I can. In Tennis, there are not many of us from the community. Any success that we can achieve as a closed group can inspire the next generation to excel. If I can inspire one more person to play, that will be fantastic. I genuinely appreciate any of the support I get as it means a lot to me. 

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