Actor lends star power to wheelchair tennis championship; cheers on athletes
The first Charminar Open Wheelchair Tennis Championship, which kicked off here on Wednesday, got a glam push with Telugu actor Samantha Akkineni turning up at the LB Stadium tennis complex to cheer on the specially-abled athletes.
Samantha boosted their morale by not only posing for selfies with almost every athlete but also urged them to give their best. “Will you beat that gentleman,” she playfully asked a participant, pointing to another player on wheels.
No Hyderabadi in play
Interestingly, there is no Hyderabadi in the fray of 32 players, both male and female, who will vie for the top honours at the four-day event.
“The whole idea is to encourage players from the city and across the State to take up wheelchair tennis, which is incidentally an Olympic sport,” said Telangana State Tennis Association secretary, Ashok Kumar.
On her part, a visibly moved Samantha felt it was a real ‘good morning’ for her on seeing the athletes. “This shows how far one can go if you have the courage and will power, irrespective of the many challenges in your path. Hats off to these wonderful athletes who can be an inspiration for many,” she remarked.
Addressing the participants, she exclaimed, “You are the perfect examples of great motivators, defying all odds and striving to excel in the field you are passionate about.”
“I am truly delighted to be associated with this initiative and hope to be involved in these kind of activities in future,” she added as applause rained all around.
Davis Cupper J. Vishnuvardhan appreciated her gesture.
Sunil Jain, chairman of Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour and founder trustee of Astha, informed that wheelchair tennis started in a big way in 2006 and now, the All India Tennis Association, the governing body for tennis in India, has been awarding ranking points since the last couple of years.
Annual event aim
“We intend to host the Hyderabad Open annually henceforth given the kind of support we have received from every department of the State government apart from corporate support,” A. Dinakar Babu, VC and MD of Sports Authority of Telangana State, said.