Why pursue tennis?

Entering school programs and encouraging children to take up sports, Mahesh Bhupati Tennis Academy (MBTA) has multiple academies in the country.

Gaurav Natekar, an Arjuna Awardee, Asian Games Gold Medallist and a former Indian Tennis player holds the post of CEO at MBTA. He says, lawn tennis in the physical training periods in school is good for an acrobatic upper and lower body, but getting kids to pursue sports has become difficult.

When the topic of encouraging sports comes in, Natekar agrees that lawn tennis is better off in its reputation than many other sports which still remain hidden from media attention. But he sees that lawn tennis has a special potential, knowing that India has produced some great players.

By launching their ‘School Tennis Program’ in various schools across India, MBTA has been able to bring in students to play lawn tennis professionally. With a fees of Rs 300 per month, one can add lawn tennis in their curriculum starting from the age of eight.

“Lawn tennis has given me an identity, taught me discipline, dedication and determination. It has given me a new world view and I wish that others experience such a thing in their life as well,” Natekar tells Metrolife.

Though one of its aim is to increase the accessibility of tennis for people across all socioeconomic groups, Natekar says that mostly the school programmes for tennis are launched in private schools in India. But he waits till the  government will see their progress and approach MBTA.

“A government school in Kerala has approached us and now we have a program there as well,” Natekar adds. He admits that coming from economically weak background is a big hindrance for pursuing such a career. “But there are many who have risen to shine as well”.

MBTA has also recently tied-up with Rafa Nadal Academy. “We will identify talent and send them to Spain for expert training and special coaching from Nadal himself in Mallorca.Nadal will be looking at the developments in the academy in Spain himself,” he says.

Describing what it means for two academies to come together in this way, he says, “There will be more investments and better developments and reach, which will bring more opportunities for those who see a future in this sport.”
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