Kush Arjeria and Ayushi Narvariya from Gwalior, MP emerged as the winners in the AITA Championship Series Under 18 Tournament held at the Agra Lawn Tennis Centre between 10th and 16th June. This tournament was the first ever AITA tournament held in Agra in what is a big boost to the sport not only in the city but also the state.
The first ever edition of this tournament boasted of a strong playing field as the top seeds in both Under 18 boys’ and girls’ categories were ranked as high as 84 and 98 respectively. According to the new rules for the junior circuit laid down by AITA in April this year, players from above top 75 rankings are not eligible to participate in Championship Series tournaments. The players came from many distant states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana. As per the All India Tennis Association guidelines the tournament awards 25 points to the winner.
Big boost for tennis in Agra
Many junior players from the city got an opportunity to participate in the tournament and also posted good results. Naman Dadlani and Ayushi Agarwal from Agra reached semi-finals and finals respectively in their respective categories.
Addition of Agra as a tournament hosting city is an important breakthrough for the development of the sport in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Sanjay Sharma the secretary of the Agra Lawn Tennis Association says that another under 18 tournament is in the offing in August or September. Besides the association is also planning local tournaments to give a boost to local tennis. The AITA level tournaments in the city, he says, is giving an opportunity to local players who have now become enthused to participate in more tournaments elsewhere as well.
UP lags behind other states in number of tournaments
Thus far in 2019 only a handful of tournaments have been organised in the state, with most of them held in Lucknow while two in Prayagraj and one in Noida. Most of these tournaments were part of Talent Series which award lower ranking points than Championship Series.
With such a large state and huge population, UP hosts disproportionately lesser number of tournaments an analysis by Opinion Tandoor revealed. This number is especially small when compared with its neighbouring states like Haryana which is much smaller but held about one fourth of the total tournaments in the junior circuit held in 2018 across all the states. With only 15 tournaments UP was in the 14th position. Most of these tournaments were held in Lucknow with a few others in Prayagraj and Noida.
Picture might change with new rules
With the new rules announced by AITA this year to “ensure proper conduct of events”, the number of tournaments being held in various states could alter significantly. According to the new rules, as reported, only centres and academies that are registered with AITA will be allotted tournaments. Moreover, tournaments featuring two age groups will be allowed only at the discretion of AITA when there are six courts with lighting. Until last year many tournaments which were hosted in the junior circuit held competition for two age categories simultaneously. The practice of three-day tournaments has also been discontinued.