Sometimes,life deals you a bad hand. And no one knows this better than 14-year-old George,who lost his home and all worldly possessions when the tsunami hit Car Nicobar on December 26,2004. The memories of that day are still vivid in my mind. We felt a tremor at 6.25 am and five minutes later,the tsunami hit. We did not have food to eat for three days, recalls George,who also lost his grandmother on that fateful day.
But it was tennis that pulled him out of those dark days. The All India Tennis Association decided to select players from tsunami-hit areas and held a trial at Nicobar. I had never played tennis in my life but the selectors were impressed with our fitness levels and speed. They finally chose 12 players from our island, he says.
George,along with the other lucky eleven,learnt the basics of the game under coach T S Chandrashekhan at National Tennis Academy,New Delhi. He is in Chandigarh to attend a 15-day camp at Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Academy under Doug MacCurdy,a player development adviser with the International Tennis Federation.
The boys turned many heads when they performed spectacularly at the state and national level. It was a proud moment for me when I won the national Under-12 title in the National Series. Later,one of the boys,Prabhakar Shekhara,was selected as a ball kid for the Australian Open 2007. It felt nice when our hard work paid off, said 13-year-old Shailendra who has also played in the Asian Junior Rankings,several inter-state tournaments,Under-14 and Under-16 national tournaments.
We are learning how to improve our technique from coach MacCurdy. We are enjoying our stay in Chandigarh,however,our main priority is still the game. We have been told that top five players from the National Tennis Academy will be sent abroad for training and we dont want to miss the chance, Shailendra signs off.