AITA claims credit for Sania's victory

Sania Mirza's historical feat has not only bought cheer to many, but also prompted sports bodies like AITA to jump into the fray and grab the spotlight.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:49 IST
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Sania Mirza's historical feat on Saturday has not only bought cheer to many, but also prompted sports bodies like the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to jump into the fray and grab the spotlight for producing a matchwinner. AITA says that they were the first to sponsor Sania two years ago. They say it's because of their efforts that Indian women's tennis is finally looking up today. "AITA is the administrative body of tennis and it has played a significant role even in creation of Sania. We had just one ranked player in WTA in 1998, now there are 29 ranked players. We are 13th in the world in terms of ranked players. People don't realise but, AITA has contributed a lot to women's tennis and Sania is product of this system," said Anil Khanna, General Secretary, AITA. No foreign trainers Though AITA has seven international junior tournaments taking place every year, the association has also faced flak for not producing enough top ranking players like a Paradorn Srichaphan in Thailand. One of the problems is the reluctance of AITA to hire a foreign coach or trainer. "We have a very big need of a world class physical trainer, since Indian kids, their technique is very good but they lack in physical fitness, that is where a world-class trainer can be of great help," said Vishal Uppal, Former Member, Davis Cup Team. "Right now in India, we need a good teaching, technical system. A good system in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai through which we can get a lot of promising kids and have to ensure that the process keeps on continuing," said T Chandrashekharan, Chief Coach, National Tennis Academy. Support system The newly-started National Tennis Academy on the outskirts of Delhi is certainly a step in the right direction. But the AITA will have to do a lot more to prove that they are providing their players with the necessary support. With a little help from the International Tennis Federation, the All India Tennis Association can get the best of the coaches in the business and also a physical trainer of international standard, something which the experts believe can take Indian tennis to a new high in the coming years.