Suraj, a 'Tennis Star' in the making

Young talent

Suraj R Prabodh in action. DH photoWith 17 National-level Individual Championship titles of various age groups in tournaments conducted by All India Tennis Association (AITA) under his belt, the sound of Suraj R Prabodh’s racquet making contact with the tennis ball is resonating through the city.

Took to tennis at a tender age of 10, his inspiration, he says, is his late grandfather Dr S C Mugappashetty.

Suraj said that his grandpa used to keep newspaper clippings and also collected all the trophies he won and ensure that they would be in condition.

Later, it seems that the words of his grandfather inspired Suraj to take the racquet.

Recalling the incident, Suraj’s father M R Prabodh said, “We were taking his (Suraj’s) grandfather to Narayana Hrudayala as he was suffering from heart ailment. On the way he caught hold of Suraj’s hand and said ‘Don’t quit tennis’.” Later, on the way to the hospital, he breathed his last.

From then onwards, there has been no stopping forSuraj, who happens to be the only player from Karnataka to win an individual event of the inter-school national level tournament conduced jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Olympic Association.

With his routine beginning at 6 am in the morning, the young lad focuses on maintaining physical fitness under the guidance of his coach Shyam and Anil of Synergy gym. With a vigorous workout till 7.30 am, Suraj begins his practice at 9 am and continues till 11.30 am, under the watchful eyes of his coach, Charan and his assistant Raghav at the Mysore Tennis Club.

With a break of about three hours, Suraj returns to practice for four hours at the synthetic court to pursue his ambition of winning the ITF Asian B1 Juniors Title.

Presently aged 15, Suraj was a member of the first team from Karnataka to enter finals of the Inter-School National-level Tennis Tournament in Delhi during 2009-2010. The team went on to win the silver medal in the tournament.

With a strong single-handed backhand as his weapon, Suraj had defeated a few Indian top seeds, who are a part of the Junior Davis Cup team. He defeated players including A Parthasarthy of Andhra Pradesh, Anvit Bendre of Maharashtra and Fatedip Singh of Punjab.

However, his main support has been Adhi Manor Hotels proprietor Daljit Ram Chaudhary, who has been sponsoring Suraj’s participation in all major tournaments and also a regular visitor to check on the young players’ improvements.

Suraj would be leaving for Chennai next week to participate in an international level Junior Championship tournament and the following week to Manipal to play in his maiden International level Men’s tournament.

Pursuing his II PU at Cauvery Composite PU College, Suraj said, that his college had been giving enormous co-operation and support to continue improving his game.

Suraj has started to play in the international level junior championship tournaments since four months and has so far been successful in qualifying to the main draws of the tournaments in all the five tournaments played so far.

However, with rising costs of participation could leave the rising player in the dock. M R Prabodh said, “Participation in every tournament costs at least ` 12,000. If we start playing in international tournaments the expenses could increase to around  ` four to  ` five lakh per year.”

With the potential to make it big on the international scene, Suraj’s only restraint is the lack of sponsors, who he hopes, would come forward to help him meet his ambitions.

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