Pune might be the lesser mortal when compared to Mumbai in terms of most of the areas. However, in terms of its contribution to Indian tennis, it has been doing bigger things of late compared to its big brother.
Today, Pune has been contributing immensely to Indian Tennis. Let us see the history and the reasons behind this.
1. Kirtane Brothers – Sandeep Kirtane and Nitin Kirtane were the famed brother duo who gave Pune the initial fillip in tennis. As for Nitin Kirtane, who is currently 44- Years- Old is still active at the National Level Tournaments.
2. The Hemant Bendrey Effect – Hemant Bendrey`s contribution to Pune`s tennis is paramount. The Hemant Bendre Tennis Academy (HBTA) which he founded way back in 1990 at PYC Hindu Gymkhana has produced many stars for India.
3. Ankita Raina – If there was any doubt, Ankita Raina has put Pune`s tennis right on the Indian tennis map. She shifted to Pune in 2007 and started to work under Hemant Bendrey.
Ankita Raina, India`s No.1 Women`s Singles Player going from strength to strength.
The fact that she has been India`s No. 1 Women`s Singles player in India for quite sometime gives Pune a respected place in Indian tennis.
Arjun Kadhe and Rutuja Bhosale doing strength and conditioning training under Gaurav Nijhon
Both products of College Tennis in the US have come back and have been playing full time professional tennis for just over a year. They are already moving leaps and bounds in their rankings. While the 24-Year-Old Arjun is currently ranked 396 on the ATP, the 21-Year-Old Rutuja is ranked 538 on the WTA.
Maharashtra Open – Pune got its first taste of a 250 Series ATP Tournament in the form of the Maharashtra Open. Just when India was on the threshold of losing the 250 Series tournament out of Chennai, Pune grabbed the opportunity. It showed Pune`s readiness and willingness for the big stage.
Sunder Iyer Factor – Sunder Iyer, who is the secretary of Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) has a huge role to play for Pune`s growth. Apart from being instrumental in bringing the ATP 250 Series in Pune, he has also maintained other tournaments in Pune including the ATP Pune Challenger and ITF tournaments. A good hold and rapport with the right stake holder including the sponsors has let Sunder Iyer bring in the best to the table.
The Strong Support System – A robust system in place has made Pune an attractive destination for tennis in India
- Good Infrastructure like the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex in Balewadi shere the ATP 250 Series Maharashtra Open is held
- Good Coaching venues like PYC Hindu Gymkhana and Bounce Sports Academy backed by good coaches like Hemant Bendrey and Kedar Shah
- Good young trainers like Gaurav Nijhon who trains India`s leading players
Young Brigade – Pune also has a good number upcoming players adding to the bench strength. Few of them like 16- Year-Old Salsa Aher and 13-Year-Old Rutuja Chaphalkar are ready to move to the next level.