Shorn off stars, tennis nationals begin today

Come October and the Indian domestic tennis circuit is abuzz with the enthusiasm of fresh talents.

The Fenesta Open National Tennis Championships, over the years, has provided the platform to a host of national stars to thrive and many starry eyed youngsters would be eager to prove themselves when the event begins at the DLTA complex on Monday.

With the tournament entering its 20th year, the organisers decided to celebrate their long association with the sport by doubling the prize money to Rs 18.6 lakhs.  Besides, the winners of the men's and women's singles will get wild cards into the main draw of the Delhi Open to be held in the Capital next year. The runner-ups in both the categories will get to play in the qualifying round of the tournament.

None of the top Indian players   will be in action as the international calendar will keep them busy. In the men's draw, Karunuday Singh, who won his maiden ITF title in 2011 here, has got the top billing. Olympian and 2010 Asian Games medallist Vishnu Vardhan, seeded second, will also be a tough competitor as he looks to recover his form that catapulted him to the Davis Cup team and the 2012 London Olympics.

His progress, however, was hit by right knee tendonitis which troubled him whole of last year. He started the year on a promising note by winning his second national grasscourt title in Kolkata in January and carried his form to the ITF circuit where he reached a final and two semifinals. “I got into playing a lot of matches and it began to take a toll, so from August I took a two month break. I am fit now and looking to go deep into the tournament,” Vishnu, who finished runner-up to Yuki Bhambri in 2011, told Deccan Herald. Also in the race for the title will be big serving defending champion Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash, who is the third seed.

In the women's singles, Delhi girl Prerna Bhambri, seeded third, is in line for her third straight National title.

"I am confident of doing well. Hopefully I can win it for the third time,” said Prerna, who has made a quarterfinal and semifinal in the $10,000 ITF tournaments this year.
Delhi girl Rishika Sunkara has been seeded first and will be looking to make up for her loss last year when she retired hurt against Prerna in the final.

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