Tennis in India probably does not have a strong connect, as other sports like cricket, football or hockey. However, Sania Mirza and Leander Paes back to back win in major titles of world tennis, has definitely provided young players with a new vertical.
Leander Paes has already created history by wining US Open mixed double title playing with Swiss player Martina Hingis. That win has made Paes a most successful male player of the format. He bags ninth title in the Open era, while a total of 17 Grand Slam titles for his country.
Sania Mirza on the other hand has bagged second consecutive win of Grand Slam title in the season, fifth overall after wining US Open women’s doubles with her partner Martina Hingis. They defeated Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova with 6-3, 6-3 in final.
Both Sania and Paes has won 5 titles in 12 double events played in four grand slams, which is again a very big achievement for India and players as well.
The history of tennis is very long in India. The game was introduced by Britisher’s in 1880, during the colonial rule. Tennis in India gained momentum from 1905 when BK Nehru and Sardar Nihal Singh were joined by M Saleem, Fayzee brothers in 1908 along with Jagat Mohan Lal, who has made it into the last 16 stages at Wimbledon.
Post-Independence Tennis has witnessed its golden era in India. Ramanathan Krishnan reached his highest No.4 in Wimbledon during 1962. In the Davis Cup, India consecutively became Zonal champions. The non-playing captains of India such as Ramanathan Krishnan, Premjit Lal, SP Mishra and RK Khanna drove India in the Finals of Davis Cup during 1966.
In 1970, Vijay Amritraj with Brother Anand Amritraj and team mates Shashi Menon, Jasjit Singh steered India into the World Cup finals second time. Vijay has also been in the quarterfinals of US Open in 1973 and 1981 and Wimbledon in 1973 and 1974.
Then came Leander Paes – a player who does not require any introduction. He won Junior Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1990 and 1991 respectively. The steady performance of Paes has won him a bronze medal for India in Olympic 1996 during Atlanta Games. The success drive of Paes took him to new heights, when he with his partner Mahesh Bhupathi won 3 grand slam titles for India in men’s doubles.
Indian tennis history has then witnessed arrival of Sania Mirza in 2003. She won Wimbledon Girl’s Championship Double’s title. Soon she became a superstar of Indian tennis, after winning WTA in 2005 followed by a silver medal in women’s singles during Doha Asian Games 2006. Sania is the first Indian woman to win WTA.
Sania again became the first Indian women to win a Grand Slam in mixed doubles, with her partner Mahesh Bhupathi at Australian Open in 2009. In Commonwealth Games of 2010, Sania won a silver medal in singles and a bronze in doubles partnering Rushmi Charavarthi. The same year Sania won bronze in singles and silver in mixed doubles at Asian Games.
Although India’s success is majorly confined to doubles category, upcoming tennis players of the country have boosted private leagues, which includes Bhupathi’s Premier Leagues and Vijay Amritraj’s Champion Tennis Leagues.
These leagues are continuously building the excitement to chuck up the challenge to other sports like cricket and football. The whole scenario depends on the corporate and federation to backup the sport in the same.