2/2/2019 11:30:20 AM (GMT+3)

India lack system to produce top-class players: Jaidip

India lack system to produce top-class players: Jaidip

KOLKATA: India’s Davis Cup legend Jaidip Mukherjea felt that Indian system doesn’t support tennis development.

Mukerjea was an outstanding player, who went on to become one of the country’s sporting legends along with his team-mate and contemporary Ramanathan Krishnan.

“The Indian middle-class family can afford to push their children into an expensive sport like tennis,” Mukerjea told www.khelupdates.com in an exclusive interview.

He reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1963 and 1964, and reached the fourth round at the French Championships in 1965.

But his most successful year was in 1966 when he reached the fourth round at the French Championships and Wimbledon. Mukherjea was also a member of the India Davis Cup team that reached the final.

KU: The legendary Rod Laver said that Davis Cup is on its last legs. Do you agree with him?
Jaidip Mukerjea: I completely agree with him (Laver). The tournament’s charm is not there anymore as home-and-away rule has also made things quite difficult. The future of the tournament looks bleak. I don’t know why the ITF had to fiddle with the structure of the tournament. The packed calendar also gives little room for top players to take part in Davis Cup.

KU: Davis Cup returned to the city after a gap of 16 years. How excited are you?
JM:
It’s a special feeling. In the past, Calcutta was a frequent venue for Davis Cup, especially World Group matches. The city hosted several big teams including Sweden, Italy, Switzerland. Now that the tournament was back after 16 years, it’s good for the sport lovers. Having said that, I think this will be the last time such an important match will take place on grass as Indian players usually avoid playing on it.

KU: India had won on grass in Kolkata against Italy, but this time they struggled. What’s your take?
JM:
We had a grass specialist Vijay Amritraj when India hosted Italy the last time here. We completely outclassed them as we had some amazing players like Ramesh Krishnan. I was the captain of the Indian side that beat the Italians. However, we lost some close matches despite having a strong team.

KU: Why India hasn’t produced tennis stars like before?
JM: Firstly, unlike in the past, India does not have a system to produce top-class players, which is unfortunate. Secondly, no middle-class family can afford to push their children into an expensive sport like tennis.

KU: Your favourite Davis Cup moment as a player in Calcutta.
JM: Both the matches against West Germany and Brazil in 1966 were crucial as they were semifinals and final. I remember how Ramanathan Krishnan made a great recovery against Thomas Koch. However, my favourite Davis Cup moment of all-time as a player was the victory against Wimbledon champions Tony Roche and John Newcombe that I Ramanathan Krishnan had enjoyed.

 

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