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Unstoppable on Wheels- this one-of-a-kind tennis tournament gets positive response in Mumbai

Mumbai’s 1st All India Tennis Association (AITA) ranked Wheelchair Tennis tournament, Mumbai Open 2022 was recently organized by the Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour (IWTT) at Navi Mumbai Sports Association.

Sport is a wonderful medium to allow people with physical disabilities to shed their inhibitions and transform their lives. Wheelchair Tennis is a form of that which provides sporting opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Although Wheelchair Tennis was invented in the 70s and all four major Grand Slams have this form integrated into them, yet there has been little concerted effort to develop the game in a competitive manner in India in the past three decades.

However, Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour (IWTT) is working towards building a vibrant competitive environment for Wheelchair Tennis in India. IWTT is a division of ASTHA, a registered non-profit organization working towards empowering persons with disabilities in India.

IWTT has successfully organised Mumbai’s 1st All India Tennis Association (AITA) ranked Wheelchair Tennis tournament, Mumbai Open 2022 at Navi Mumbai Sports Association. With 39 participants, the tournament was of 4-day non-stop Tennis that created a lot of buzz and curiosity among people visiting the sports complex.

Sunil Jain, Chairman of IWTT & Founder Trustee of ASTHA said, “The tournament attracted budding players who come to the venue for their training. Their coaches encouraged to witness some matches and interact with our players. This is definitely a positive response because all we need is people’s attention towards this form of sport that will help in building an enabling ecosystem for aspiring Wheelchair Tennis players in India.”

Karthik K. of Tamil Nadu emerged the singles champion by defeating veteran player Shekar Veeraswamy of Karnataka. But Karthik missed the doubles gold as he and his partner Mariappa D. lost to Shekar Veeraswamy and S Balachander.

In the women’s category Shilpa KP of Karnataka clinched both the singles and the doubles gold. In the singles final she defeated Prathima N Rao of Karnataka and in the double she paired with Shilpa K. to beat Prathima N. Rao and MK Mubina.

The Mumbai Open 2022 is IWTT’s 11th tournament for Wheelchair Tennis in India. Previously, three tournaments were conducted in Chennai titled Marina Open, two tournaments titled Charminar Open were hosted in Hyderabad and five tournaments were conducted in Bengaluru titled Tabebuia Open.

In addition to tournaments, IWTT also conducts The First Serve a development workshop and coaching program designed to introduce new players. IWTT’s First Serve workshops enable Indians with physical disabilities to take
up the sport of Wheelchair tennis to accomplish both recreational and competitive goals depending on individual needs. This  workshop is followed by an year-long coaching and support program during which the player is
guided to understand the competition and preparation pathways.

In 2017, IWTT through the help of local NGOs conducted its first First Serve Mumbai workshop to introduce people to Wheelchair Tennis. Over the years with the support of veteran player Sunder Venkataraman, a few wheelchair tennis players are being coached in the city. IWTT was proud to announce that 5 players who debuted at the Mumbai Open 2022 are products of the First Serve program.

About Poulomi Kundu

PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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