Contrary to popular belief, India was not always about cricket and football. The country has a long legacy in tennis too. Through his latest offering, Advantage India: The Story of Indian Tennis, banker-turned-author Anindya Dutta has chronicled the history of Indian tennis. The book revolves around pre-Independence tennis and early players like Ramanathan Krishnan and Vijay Amritraj.
Talking about his inspiration behind the book, the author who had written a book on cricket earlier, says, “I have written articles on both cricket and tennis for many years, but this is the first book on tennis. I have always felt that there is far more to Indian Tennis than the period we generally talk about — Ramanathan Krishnan onwards. What is even sadder is that recent generations only know about our prowess in doubles. So this book is an attempt to fill that void in our sports history.”
A book of this kind involves a lot of research, and Anindya spent hundreds of hours going through archives and reading several rare and out-of-print books, trawling the internet and interviewing past players. The process took about a year. Explaining his choice of title, Anindya said “The inspiration was a conversation I had with Nandan Bal. He was talking about the first time he played a Davis Cup match for India and on deuce when he got the next point, the umpire said ‘Advantage India’, instead of ‘Advantage Mr Bal.’ And that was when the pride of playing for one’s country hit him for the first time. The pride of playing for India is a theme that came up often with players I interviewed, so it seemed appropriate to give that title to the book.”
The author takes pride in the evolution of the game in India and he believes one day India will produce singles Grand Slam winners. “Given that it’s a sport that has largely developed despite the lack of support from a central body and the complete absence of public courts, we have had remarkable results.”
Stressing that the country has a rich history in tennis, Anindya says “Historically speaking, Ramanathan Krishnan for men’s singles, Leander Paes for doubles and Sania Mirza in the women’s game are the best players in both men’s and women’s category.”. So, what projects is he planning for the future? “After six books in the last few years, I am taking a short break,” shares the author. But he signs off saying “Always open to interesting offers and ideas!”