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“Pickleball brings out a player in you; this AIPA-RYP tournament will be a mode to discover yourself…….”

with Uday Dhonde

DOB:                      10th February 1977

State:                    Maharashtra

City:                       Mumbai

Club:                     Pickleball NX Ville Parle

“This tournament is not for victory or defeat but to find out yourself and to trace where you stand.”

Uday Dhonde profoundly propagated this message to all players participating in the AIPA- RYP Pickleball Ranking Tournament 2019. And why not? As a dedicated contributor to Indian Pickleball for the last 5 years, Uday Dhonde has been rightly appointed the Tournament Director of this biggest Pickleball tournament in India till date.      

“In 2014, when Pickleball was introduced to me, I never thought that one day I will act as a Tournament Director of such a big event. It was a very casual approach from my side initially. Actually I quitted the first few sessions even before playing the game. But Mr Sameer Desai, father of my son’s classmate, was keen on introducing the sport to me. So I thought of giving it a try and joined the practice one morning. And I was amazed with the sport because since childhood I was fanatic about Lawn Tennis. It was very much like my favourite game. So from the next morning, I was the first person to reach the practice ground.”

Pickleball has affected Uday’s life in different ways. Prior to Pickleball, he had not tried any sport. So thinking about playing sport at the highest level was far from his imagination. But Pickleball gave him a chance to reorganise himself. He discovered that he has a player in himself that needed a pull.

“As a player what I like most about Pickleball is that it offers happiness. It has acted as a media to form our social group of 20-25 people. Everyday when we meet we are blessed with not only physical exercise but also we get relieved of our mental stress. Pickleball has also gifted me many true friends all over India. It is so refreshing to interact with people outside my city, my state. I get a wider outlook of many things.”  

As Uday Dhonde started playing Pickleball everyday, he developed himself as a player. But what was eye-catching was his administrative skill. The heads of All India Pickleball Association noticed this ability and thus began to assign him certain roles.

“AIPA gave me an opportunity to supervise a demonstration programme at Goa. I, along with Aniket Durgavali, Kunal Bare and Sameer Oak played in front of around 450+ students from two different schools. Another major achievement for me is that AIPA recognised me as their Goodwill Ambassador.”

But perhaps his most important achievement is his appointment as the TD of AIPA-RYP Tournament. The tournament is having more than 300 players from different states of India. For the first time in the history of Indian Pickleball, a tournament is having 7 different playing categories. It is spread across two days and will be played at Balewadi in Pune.

“It is a huge responsibility for me. Arranging both on and off court logistics is really challenging. But I could not have performed all these without the support of all members of AIPA especially Mr Sunil Valavalkar, Mr Manish Rao, Mr Kishor Niphadkar, Mr Rahul Wani and Mr Niraj Sharma. I also want to thank Mr Arvind Prabhoo- President of Prabhodhankar Thackeray Krida Sankul, Mr Nikhil Mathure- Head of RYP Event Planning and Logistics and Mr Yashodhan Deshmukh- Head of RYP Sports Events.”  

The AIPA-RYP tournament will be a huge boost for all players as well as other stakeholders associated with the sport. Uday Dhonde feels that this tournament will definitely attract more players towards Pickleball. 

“I want everybody from 8 to 80 to play this sport. But what is required now is regular interaction with state secretaries for its promotion in more states. We must reach those states that are developing in sports, especially the north-eastern part on India. We have Sikkim playing Pickleball but we should also have Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh. I think Orissa has huge potential as there is a structured development of sports in recent years.”

Administrators like Uday Dhonde is needed more in Indian Pickleball. Ups and downs, clashes and conflicts will always be there in any organisational structure. But that should never supersede the sport.

“Sport teaches us to control ourselves. It teaches us to enjoy victory and simultaneously to accept defeat. Mental strength, peace of mind and patience are the keys for success and Pickleball teaches us all those.”

This Ranking tournament will also be an eye opener for the Pickleball fraternity of India. The success of the tournament will definitely lead a path for the future of Pickleball in India. So to sigh of with Uday Dhonde’s words,

“Pull out your hidden talent, polish your skills and pledge for yourself. Victory and defeat is just a result. But what you will learn from this event will remain within you forever.”   

About Poulomi Kundu

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