Dates: October 6th ~13th, 2018

Venue: Estolle Hotel and Tennis Club

1-8, Yasakadai, Togane-shi, Chiba-ken 283-0801 Japan

Indian Junior Team

Sandeepti Singh Rao

Sharanya Gaware

Nishant Dabas

Krishan Hooda

Non Playing Captain/Coach

Jaideep Bhatia


The Compass IC 16 and Under Junior Challenge was held in Chiba prefecture from October 8th to 13th. Participating teams included India, Uruguay, USA, Italy, South Africa and hosts Japan. The Indian team was represented by Sandeepti Singh Rao, Sharanya Gaware, Nishant Dabas and Krishan Hooda. The Non Playing Captain and Coach was Jaideep Bhatia.

Before delving deeper into results and other happenings of the tournament, the uniqueness of this event must be brought about. This junior event is unlike any other. Julian Tatum, the creator of this event, wanted juniors to engage with each though this unique format so as to bring out the IC spirit and motto of ‘hands across the net and friendship across the ocean’. To Julian, tennis is beyond forehands, backhands, rankings and pure competition. Tennis is a medium, a platform for people to engage with each, build relationships for life. He wanted the true essence of tennis and the IC to be reflected in this junior tournament, hence the unique format.

Event Format

Each country played “a tie “ against another country which consisted of 6 matches 2 boys singles 2 girls singles 1 boys doubles 1 girls doubles Each match was worth one point and the country with the most points won the tie. In the event of the result being 3-3, there would be a mixed doubles Champion’s 10 point tie-break to decide the winner of the whole tie. Over the course of the event, if two or more teams have won the same number of ties, the following process is to be used to decide the final positions.

a) If two teams are equal one 10 point mixed doubles Champion’s tie-break is played to decide

b) If three teams have equal points, a draw is made for the two to play and one team goes through to the final stage and plays a mixed tie break against the winner of the first mixed doubles tie-break c) If four teams have equal points a draw is made and the winners of the first mixed tie-break play against each other to decide. Captains may change pairings from one round to another. The spirit and principle of this method is to ensure that tennis decides and not a mathematical formula. It also makes it both more transparent and dramatic. Only the top two nominated players will be taken into account for seeding as the third player is only an optional reserve.

However, besides all of the above, the one part that makes this tournament exceptionally unique is the inclusion of a short clinic event for disadvantaged kids in which the players and their captains take part.

Players were selected by their ICs in conjunction with their Tennis Associations/Federations and entered by their IC. The Indian team was selected through a National Ranking AITA tournament called Road to Japan. This tournament was held in May 2018. The Girls and Boys Winner and Runner Up were selected to represent India. Sharanya was the winner while Sandeepti was the runner up in the Girls category, where Nishant Dabas was the winner and Krishan Hooda was the runner up in the boys category. The Team Captain and Coach, Jaideep Bhatia is a USPTA Certified Coach with over 25 years of coaching experience and also an IC member since 2001. He was selected by a process of nomination by IC India.

Event Details

Japan is known for its hospitality, food and cocktail culture, where centuries old traditions and modernism are blended and served to first time visitors as a truly unique ‘heady’ never to be forgotten experience. The young Indian team was exposed to it all in 5 days. On their first visit to Japan, they participated in a new activity everyday. Each activity exposed them to the ancient traditions and customs of Japan. From meeting the Princess of Japan, to wearing a traditional kimono, participating in a traditional tea ceremony, trying their hand at Japanese calligraphy and visiting a local temple, the Indian team got a crash course in Japanese culture. The modernism was all around them, from vending machines being present at every 50 metres to smart temperature controlled potty seats. Even the tennis courts were unique, synthetic grass/carpet with a generous distribution of clay which made the courts slippery and extremely slow.

The Indian team did their best to adjust to tough playing conditions and even tougher opponents. Each tie brought a new challenge. However, the Indian team braced themselves by keeping IC traditions in mind. They offered a box of traditional Indian sweets before the start of each tie. Starting the tournament against the Italians, the Indian team quickly realised the strength of the opposition. Fighting gallantly, the Indian team lost all their ties. However, some of the individual performances were noteworthy, wherein the Indian players got better of their higher ranked opponents. But again, this tournament was never intended to be all about wins and looses. It was about making new friends, the IC spirit which exemplifies true sportsmanship. Julian had it all figured out when he created this tournament. The Compass Challenge includes a Sportsmanship Award as part of its DNA. Presented at the end of the World-wide Finals, to the one boy and one girl player who, in the eyes of opposing captains, supervisors, IC Council representatives and the referee have shown an exceptional element of sportsmanship and fair-play in the true IC spirit during the event. Nishant Dabas was the proud recipient of this award. His attitude both on and off court was truly commendable. Gracious in defeat and victory, he made friends with every single player and was always smiling. The tournament organisers too loved him.

Goodbyes and never easy. But then, life is made of comings and goings, for everything we take with us, we leave something behind. The Indian team took with them memories and stories worthy of a lifetime and left behind the painful truth of coming last in the tournament.