Chennai: A record 36 players will participate in the first edition of the Marina Open AITA Ranking Wheelchair Tennis Tournament to begin today at SDAT Tennis Stadium, Chennai. According to Karti P Chidambaram, vice-president, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA), tennis is a game for all, including the differently-abled. "Wheelchair tennis is a growing sport which must be encouraged. TNTA on its part had conducted Wheelchair Tennis Tournaments in the past and also supported wheelchair players from the state to participate in tournaments," he said.
He also proposed that such tournaments should also be taken to the districts. He thanked Sunil Jain of ASTHA Foundation for promoting wheelchair tournament and assured him that TNTA will give full support.
Sunil Jain, a chartered accountant from Bengaluru and founder of ASTHA Foundation said that after a lot of research they have zeroed in on development of Wheelchair Tennis for the benefit of the disabled. He hoped that Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour (IWTT) will become popular in time to come and assured that this tournament will be held regularly.
Hiten Joshi, tournament director, highlighted the salient features. The number of entries for the Men’s event was 29 and the top two seeds were Veeraswamy Shekar and S Shivaprasad of Karnataka. Tamil Nadu was represented by a dozen players with Selvaraj Anand, D Mariappan and Selvaraj Balachandar the 3rd, 4th and 5th seed respectively leading the challenge.
In the Women’s Event, there were a total of 6 entrants with Prathima Rao of Karnataka being the top seed. Other in the fray are Shilpa and Nalina Kumari also of Karnataka, Madhu Bagri of Gujarat, Khushbu Ganatra of Maharashtra and Nalani Buob of Switzerland.
The Men’s Winner will get 30 points and the Runner Up will get 22 points while the Women’s Winner will get 15 points and the Runner Up 12 points. The Men’s Doubles events will also be conducted. The tournament carries a total Prize Money of Rs 2,50,000. The Finals are to be played on Saturday.