Sania, Bhupathi play 'river tennis'

The concept of tennis on the barge had tennis stars Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi in smiles as they took to the courts for a friendly volley.

updated: September 19, 2007 16:07 IST
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The Sunfeast Open has already started in Kolkata with the first round of matches being played out at the Netaji Indoor stadium.

There's not clear indication yet of whether Sania Mirza's wrist has recovered sufficiently to let her play at the tournament but she was certainly game for some tennis in a very unusual setting, even if the balls went missing and couldn't quite be retrieved!

Tennis has been played in front of the Vidhan Sabha in Bangalore, the beach in Chennai but tennis on a barge?

The novel concept had tennis stars Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi in smiles as they took to the courts for a friendly volley of three games. Sania won the toss and chose to serve.

This is the first ever river tennis and the players are free to toss a few balls into the river as organizers found out that it's cheaper to loose a few balls to the Hoogly river than put up a safety net right across the barge.

This is Sania's first public appearance at the Sunfeast Opens amidst speculations that the world ranking player is bowing out of the tournament owing to a wrist injury.

Despite it being a friendly volley it was clear that Sania was careful not to strain her wrist while returning the volleys and reading between the lines, it looks more than likely that Sania is going to pull out.

"Being a tennis player I've been through my share of injuries in my life so it comes down to bad luck. You can't fight bad luck if she's injured she's injured. At the end the tournament has to go on," said Mahesh Bhupathi.

A bit of a setback for Globosport, but the organizers of the largest women's tennis event in south Asia are keenly looking at new blood - 14-year-old Kyra Shroff.

"We've given a wild card to our player Kyra Shroff who won the national. The exposure this year will be very good for her and she will improve in the next few years," said Bhupathi.

Back to tennis on the barge though, and as if making up for not losing enough balls to the water, the players sent three more into the Hooghly - an appropriate sign off for a unique event.