Former tennis star returns to Kolkata turf

Syed Fazaluddin is here at Calcutta South Club to turn the clock back one more time.

updated: December 19, 2007 10:32 IST
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Even as the National Grass Court Championship rolled out on the lush green Calcutta South Club on Monday, a former champion is here to turn the clock back one more time.

Syed Fazaluddin, the Davis Cupper and Asian Games Medallist, who happens to be the son of football coach Syed Nayeemuddin, is here to repeat his feat of winning the title, which he won here in 1999.

But Fazal, who had helped Mahesh Bhupathi and Martin Dammin in their North American swing in the 2005 US Open, is more of an amateur now. An international business degree holder, he is now a banker in Dallas, Texas.

Out of competitive tennis for nearly seven years, Fazal's visit to the city on a holiday coincided with the tournament. The man who had been reared on these courts could not just push aside his desire to hit the balls here once again, in a competitive atmosphere.

"I am here on a holiday to the city. I came here to spend some time with my family and here I am playing tennis," he says almost amused.

"Competitive tennis is out of my system now. But I do hit some balls now and then," he said here at the club.

"A friend suggested that I could participate in the Nationals and I could not say no. But it's just a one-off thing. I am settled and happy doing what I do," said Fazaluddin, who manages others' money now.

Hitting the ball will be fun. It will also be a test of how his fitness stands. "There are these young boys playing here. I want to see where I stand," he said.