The Championships – Wimbledon 2014-08-29
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and the Lawn Tennis Association of Great Britain jointly organise the famous championships at the well manicured grass courts of Wimbledon. The Championship, which is now over a hundred years old, is a manifestation of the famous English tradition, perfection and a lesson on flawless organisation. Year after year one witnesses the presence of old faces whether manning the gates or providing the security cover with complete dedication and commitment. With thousands of spectators thronging the arena in the obtaining security environment, not only is the event incident free but the entire conduct of the unofficial world championship is a lesson in the organisational efficiency also. The English summer adds to the gaiety of the championship with artistically arranged flowers mainly petunias, begonias and geraniums, thus presenting a great ambience. Well laid out bars, food courts, ice cream parlours and the famous strawberry and cream provide the spectators not only a variety of refreshments, but also relaxation. Added to all the drama is the presence of top tennis players of the word jostling to exhibit their tennis playing prowess. Every day celebrities and eminent tennis loving personalities are invited and seated at the Royal Box. This year Sachin Tendulkar and his wife were invited twice, DavidBeckham and his wife Victoria, Kate Winslet, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,the tennis legends, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Conners,Tony Roche, Virginia Wade, Boris Becker, were all honoured and seated in the Royal Box. The commentators too are drawn from amongst the former Tennis Greats like John McEnroe, Tim Henman, John Lloyd, Sue Barker, Vijay Amritraj and Lindsay Davenport.
The Championships – Wimbledon 2014-08-29 At the North end of the court is the International Box, where members of the ederations and members of the International Lawn Tennis Clubs (IC) are seated. This year Sanjeev Kassal and I were honoured guests from India. Mr. Anil Khanna,the President of the AITA was also conspicuous by his presence at the International Box.
The Indian presence at the championship ended at the quarter final stage in the Men’s doubles, Mixed Doubles and Ladies Doubles. Somdev Devvarman lost in the first round of the Men’s Singles. Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna, Sania Mirza were all in action but it’s a great pity that besides these oldies there were no new comers from the Indian tennis.
The Women’s Final turned out to be a tame affair with Euginie Bouchard going down in straight sets (6-3, 6-0) to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. Serena Williams fell to Aliza Cornet of France and with the elimination of Maria Sharapova, the omen’s event lost its colour.
The Men’s Final was rated amongst the best in recent years. Novak Djokovic is great and he played a brilliant, bruising tournament but we all know that Federer is the greatest. Djokovic knows it too, as he charmingly conceded in the post match celebrations. Alas for all those who watched Wimbledon, it was probably the nearest we will ever get to seeing Federer win the trophy again, and adding to the seven titles that he already has. In the fourth set, Federer was 5-2 down and seemed that it was all over, but the great player that he is, he reeled off five games in a row to level the match at 2 sets all. This was a temporary reprieve, as Federer missed four consecutive first serves in the tenth game of the final set. Djokovic was inspired and a final netted backhand off Federer delivered unrestrained Serbian joy. Finally it is the youth which prevailed. Djokovic, five years younger and not without strength of will, showed that he had that fraction more when it mattered. The frailty of a great champion is a sad thing to see, but Federer stole the hearts of the fans. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge too appeared to abandon neutrality and were visibly giving their Royal backing to Federer. Wimbledon and in particular the Royal Box showed its partisanship as it cheered at every point Federer won and sighed with the winner that Djokovic unleashed.
Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgarian boyfriend of Sharapova) and Milos Raonic may have reached their first Grand Slam Semi Finals at Wimbledon, but it was a 19 year old Australian, Nick Kyrgios, who announced his arrival in the most emphatic style saving 9 match points against Richard Gasquet of France, before causing one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history, stunning World No. 1 and two time champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. With a booming serve, Kyrgios, a former Australian Junior Champion, shows a great future in Men’s Tennis.
It is thanks to the International Lawn Tennis Club of India that I am invited to the championships since the last several years, and it is thanks to tennis that I am a witness to the spectacle of Wimbledon year after year.
Major Yogesh Prasad
Sumant C Misra – 11 Jan 1923 – 3 Sep 2011
Sumant, affectionately called Tiny by his friends, was born in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh. Before the onset of the Krishnan era, Sumant dominated the Indian Tennis scene . His contemporaries in Indian Tennis were Man Mohan Lal, Dilip Bose, Narender Nath, Naresh Kumar, Iftikar Ahmed, Jimmy Mehta and Prem Pandhi. Known for his cannon ball serve and lethal backhand, Sumant, as a 14 year old, played his tennis at the famous Calcutta South Club. Of all the players of his time, Sumant is the only one who played Junior, Senior and Veteran Tennis Championships. Sumant played for the Indian Davis Cup team for nine years between 1947 – 1956. Highlights of his playing career include Quarter Finals of the Wimbledon Doubles Championship, along with Jimmy Mehta in 1947 and National Doubles in 1947. His was the only pair in the Championships to take a set off Ted Schroeder and Jack Kramer, the Winners, who had captured both the Wimbledon and the US Open titles at the Forest Hills in 1947.
He won the last All India Tennis Championship in 1944-45, and then went on to win the first newly christened National Lawn Tennis Championships of India that was held at the South Club Calcutta, in 1946-47 beating Man Mohan Lal. In 1953 he won the National Championship again and was the finalist on three other occasions. In 1947-48 he was defeated in the Final byLennart Bergelin of Sweden ( In later years he was better known as the coach of Bjorn Borg ). Sumant also won the men’s singles title in 1958-59 at the Sri Lanka and Malaysian National Championships. In 1972 Sumant’s elder son Gaurav Misra (Kandu ) defeated Ramanathan Krishnan to win the Nationals held at the Calcutta South Club, making them the first father – son to win the National Lawn Tennis Championships of India. Gautam Misra (Dinky), his other son also played University level Tennis. Both Dinky and Kandu are members of the IC and have now made the USA their home. Nicknamed Tiny, 88 year old Sumant carried the moniker like a crown on his 6 feet 2 inches tall frame. He was extremely sociable blessed with subtle sense of humour. His petite wife Sharda too played Tennis clad in a white sari. Together they made a very charming couple. Sumant, was a founder member of the Indian IC, and throughout his life remained actively involved in nourishing and guiding the fraternity. Although he did not opt for a life membership, he made sure to attend the AGMs and actively participated in the IC events. In his days the annual subscription of the IC was Rs.10/-, and one could participate in the AGM only on prior payment of the yearly subscription. Sumant, would pay his subscription before taking his seat in the AGM. He was President of the Indian IC from 1968 – 69, and treasurer in 1958, 1961 – 63. Sumant was the Secretary of the All India Lawn Tennis Association from 1963 to 66, and on the Committee of Management of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) during the years 65 – 67.
Besides Tennis he was a prolific Golfer, carrying a handicap of 8. He retired from a very senior managerial position in the Indian Aluminium Company. He lived in Delhi after his retirement and till a few years before his demise he enjoyed playing tennis at the Delhi Gymkhana Club, and golf at the Delhi Golf Club. After a brief illness Sumant passed away on September 3, 2011 at the age of 88. Sumant is fondly remembered by one and all in the tennis fraternity.
Yogesh Prasad (Vice President)
Raghu Rajwade (1945 – 2011)
The quote “There is no limit to what a man can achieve as long as he doesn’t care who gets the credit” captures Raghu in a nutshell. He was a class apart and one who worked indefatigably for all IC events. His sense of fairness on and off the court won him respect and friends from all age groups. Born on October 21st, 1945, Raghu loved tennis from the word go. As a roommate and friend from Doon School recalls, even at that young age, he wanted two things, primarily, from life. One that his beloved tennis should never be parted from him and second, whenever his final call came, it should be on the courts, racquet in hand. Ironically, both wishes came true. Raghu passed out of the Doon school in 1961, as School captain, a position he was given on account of his excellence on the field. While he was brilliant at nearly every game he played, his first love remained tennis. He carried his prowess with him to Delhi University. He represented St Stephens and the Delhi University for all the years he was a student.
Raghu was also the poster boy for Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, being used in print ads for the hospital, a testimony to his grit and determination to keep his tennis near him at all times. He had his first heart attack at the age of 30 and was told he could never play tennis again. With a heart that pumped only at 30 percent of its capacity, he was advised, at the most, to go for a mild walk. This did not deter him from playing his beloved sport. In fact he went on to represent the country at the World Seniors Championships at Turkey and New Zealand. He was the ultimate player and a gentleman, and for the larger IC fraternity, one who epitomised the IC mantra of ‘handshakes across the net and friendships across the oceans’.
Sanjeev Kassal (Honorary Secretary)