Not many are aware of tennis in the far Northeast of India. While most of the people from other parts of India view the Northeast as a cradle for football and boxing activities but the region has also been quite active in  tennis. After all the former Indian no.1 Somdev Devvarman is a product of the region.

Of all the Northeastern states, Assam has been in the forefront when it comes to tennis.

Let us have a look at what the Northeast and mostly Assam has to offer India in terms of tennis:

1. Prominent Tennis Venues:

2. Prominent Tennis Tournaments in 2017:

  • ITF junior world ranking tennis tournament
  • AITA Championship Series (CS)
  • Asian Junior Championship

3. Prominent Players:

  • Somdev Devvarman – India`s former No.1 singles player who rose as high as 62 on  the ATP. He has undoubtedly been one of the best singles player alongside Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes
  • Anirban Baruah – A select product of Britannia Amritraj Tennis (BAT) in the early nineties who at the age of 15 years played the Junior Wimbledon, U.S Open and Australian Open. After his career was cut short by injuries, he now runs his own tennis academy Kettering Tennis Center at Ohio in the US
  • Sukanya Choudhury – Winner of under 10, under 12 and under 16 National Championship during the 1980s. She was a regular representative from India in the team events

Bedanta Buragohain, head coach of All Assam Tennis Association (AATA) complex in the warm routine with his ward at the picturesque stadium 

 

4. Current Players to look out for:

  • Tanisha Kashyap from Assam is undoubtedly one of the best juniors in the country if not the best. At the age of 15, she has won the Under -16 Fenesta National Championship in 2017. She even reached the semi finals of the under – 18 and most notably the Women`s category.
  • Jennifer Luikham from Manipur is only 18 years of age. She was the former No.1 in India in the under 16 category. She has already started playing in the ITF Women`s circuit and is currently ranked around 1000 on the WTA.
  • Udit Gogoi from Assam is a promising junior player who is doing well in the AITA tournaments. He was also the only player from India selected for the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament held before the Junior French Open.

5. Focal Point: Most of the action happens around the All Assam tennis Association (AATA) complex where there are 6 coaches and 1 fitness trainer. It has good infrastructure including floodlit courts. Paul Dale who was a coach of the Britannia Amritraj Tennis (BAT) in the nineties often comes down to AATA  from Thailand as its foreign coach

6. Roadblocks: There are a few roadblocks hindering tennis is the Northeast.

  • Players after reaching a certain age do not see it as a career option
  • The talented players move out to places like Delhi, Gujarat etc for better scope
  • No sponsorship for tournaments. Oil India Limited (OIL) is the only notable sponsor as private companies are only a few to take note of

Author` Take: There are a lot of talented players in the region. The next Somdev Devvarman can make from this region but funding from  the government,individuals and organisations would be the key. It is quite notable that a player like Tanisha Kashyap who is the top junior in the country does not have any financial help. On  the contrary, her contemporaries from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Hyderabad are well taken care of by the respective state associations.