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A Feel of the Centre Court


The events which are mentioned in this article are true and not a result of any imagination. This event took place in the December of 2000.

 

I was shaking with sweat and my body just cringed at the thought of playing in a Tennis stadium, packed to capacity in Nungambakkam. My coach had given me this “shocking” news just days before, that I was to partner Vijay Amritraj one of the greatest Tennis Legends in World Tennis history for a Charity Doubles match. I knew that there were players who would give “an arm and a leg” for this kind of opportunity and I was certainly blessed to avail of it. Yet I could not get rid of the sinking feeling that I was going to make a complete fool of myself in front of thousands of people. There were questions that would haunt my mind like, what if I don’t play my best tennis? Or what if my shots don’t work? I was so nervous just thinking about it.

D-DAY arrived and I was sitting in the dressing room waiting for the “magical” moment to arrive. The atmosphere was electrifying and I could hear the crowd chanting out “Leander” and “Mahesh”. My heart pounded when I was informed that I was to play before the then Grand Slam Champions.

 

When the time arrived, I walked out into the cool open air and onto the brightly lit centre court. The Man (Vijay) himself was standing there and gave me one of his most enigmatic smiles ever. He told me not to be nervous, but I just smiled sheepishly. My tension was only rising seeing the crowd and I just wanted to get it over with.

The match started and we were playing against Vijay’s own brother Anand Amritraj who was also one of the greats and my state mate Arun Prakash. After a few exchange of shots, volleys and serves, we lost the tie-break 7 points to 4. I sighed with a sense of regret and relief. Then all four of us shook hands and we left the court amidst cheer and applause.

When I was just getting back to reality, Vijay came up to me, shook my hand and praised me for my composure. I thanked him and asked for his autograph and for a photo alongside him. He gladly obliged and after a few exchange of words, I said goodbye, packed my things and returned home. This was the most memorable day in my life and it was definitely a “feel of the centre court”.

Contributing Writer: Samritha Subash, a highly motivated writer with a desire to pen down, what happens in our day to day lives. samrita104@hotmail.com  


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