Vijayawada: Soft tennis in the state is booming for the first time after the bifurcation of united AP. Lack of an association had become a big hurdle for the development of this game in AP.
Soft Tennis is present in Asian Games, World Championships and international games. Amateur Soft Tennis Federation of India (ASTF) has been regularly conducting the nationals for the past 16 years.
This game is included in School Games Federa-tion of India as well as in the Association of Indian Universities. Adding to this, many tennis players are also attracted to this game as the rules, measurement of the courts are almost the same.
But despite its popularity in India and on the global canvas, the game did not get much importance in the newly bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. In fact there was no mention of AP in the National Games from 2014-2018.
At last, a new association was formed in Octo-ber 2018 which got its affiliation in December. The first girls team whi-ch participated in the Nationals with the suppo-rt of the Association bag-ged two bronze medals, showing the power of AP.
AP girls team got a bro-nze medal and in the doubles event, S. Yasasvi and P. Lavanya paired up and brought another bronze medal to the state, in the sub-junior nationals held at Bhubaneswar from December 27 to 31, 2018.
After this first victory, a legion of newcomers ha-ve been joining the game. Now the AP senior team is practising to participate in the Nationals to be held at Lucknow from March 27-31.
With the support of Am-ateur Soft Tennis Federa-tion of India (ASTF), they are trying to get acceptance from the AP government to incorporate this game in the list of AP sports and games to strengthen the soft tennis status in the state. Then this game will be eligible for financial assistance, reservation in academic institutions, employment in government departments and also in local bodies.
Speaking to this newspaper, the new AP Soft Tennis Association, general secretary, D. Naveen Kumar, said, “Soft Tennis has National champions-hips whereas tennis only has ranking tournaments of ITA which will not get preference in jobs; hence the tennis players are attracted to this game.”
He further added that they hoped that the process of incorporating soft tennis in the state sports discipline will also be completed by Sports Authority of AP soon.
APSTA state president P. Murali said the game was getting a good response in all the districts. “We believe it will develop more in the next two years,” he said and added, “Maintenance for this game is less and we want all the private tennis academies and gover-nment courts to improve soft tennis facilities in the state with a view to establishing a separate soft tennis academy.”...