A nostalgic evening of serves and volleys

A nostalgic evening of serves and volleys

The Indiranagar Club has witnessed several memorable evenings and February 16 was another one as four former national tennis players hit the courts, reminiscing their good old days that left them emotionally-soaked and the small gathering joy-filled.

Rivals-cum-friends of the 1970s, Kiran Bedi and Udaya Kumar, as well as Dechu Moola and C G K Bhupathi took time off their routine schedules for an evening of exhibition tennis, jokes and some coffee.

While all of them struggled with their hitting on the court with age and lack of practice expectedly taking a toll, they, however, enthralled the audience with their sheer will to fetch balls beyond their reach and poking fun at each other during points.

“It’s a trip down memory lane for me,” gushed the effervescent Bedi, who teamed up with Bhupathi in a doubles match against Udaya and Dechu. “When I see Udaya and Dechu, I can only think of our days in the 70s when it was a major struggle to compete in nationals and university events.

“We used to travel in third-class compartments and by the time we reached our destination, we were smelling of coal! Sometimes we had to travel in unreserved compartments but we never allowed the adversities to get the better of us. We took it as a challenge and all of us have excelled in some way or the other,” recollected the former Asian champion.

Easily the centre of attraction, the former top cop who is now actively involved in an anti-corruption drive, Bedi said the foundations of her successful IPS career were laid in tennis. “I’ve always maintained that sport teaches you discipline. Education gives you knowledge but sport brings about discipline in you. Every kid needs to be actively involved in sport and at the same time concentrate on education. Balance between the two is imperative for personal success.”

The fittest among the lot, former national champion and number one Udaya was at a loss of words to explain her happiness at meeting her friends after nearly a decade. “All of you’ll know Kiran has been extremely busy ever since she cleared her IPS examinations in 1972. We’ve met maybe 4-5 times since then.

“I still remember the day when I beat her for the 1972 National grass court title. But, she was a great fighter and a crowd-pleaser.

“She is a very strong woman and I think her superb career speaks for itself. What gives me great joy is a chance to meet her and talk to her. It also very nice to meet Bhupathi and Dechu. We have a lot to talk about and I wonder if an evening is just enough.”

For the record, Bhupathi and Bedi shared the spoils 4-10, 11-9 with Dechu and Udaya. But the result hardly mattered in the end as all the four enjoyed their evening with equal gusto.

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