On Sunday late morning, while Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Academy (CLTA) head coach 46-year-old Romen Singh and CLTA trainee and Indian Junior Davis Cup player Krishan Hooda ended their training session at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association Tennis Stadium, Mawatha, Colombo, and walked their way to their hotel in Colombo 02 Area, the duo did not know about the bomb blasts in the Sri Lankan capital and surrounding areas. With two out of the eight bomb blasts, which killed more than 200 people and injured more than 450 people, happening at The Shangrila hotel and Cinnamon Grand Hotel, which are 2.9 km and 1.3 km respectively from their hotel, the duo saw scores of ambulance and police officials and rushed to their hotel. Along with Singh and Hooda, three more players from Chandigarh are in Colombo to play in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Grade 5 Tournament.
The coach recounted the happenings of the day. “We had arrived in Colombo on Saturday to play in the UTF Junior Grade 5 Tournament and had our practice session in the evening. After we finished our training session this morning at the Sri Lanka tennis Association Stadium, we walked to our hotel. We must have missed hearing the blasts sound due to our training and as we walked to our hotel, we saw many ambulances and police vehicles rushing. Later when we reached the hotel, we got to know about the blasts at the two hotels near by. We did not have our breakfast and went to have milk from the nearby shop. At that time, the whole market was shut and Army had also come. We have been asked to stay in our hotel. Yes, incidents like these make one scared and I have been getting many phone calls from India asking about our well-being,” Singh told Chandigarh Newsline from Columbo.
The ITF Junior Grade 5 Tournament in Colombo will be played from April 22 to 28 with the qualifying rounds meant to happen on Saturday and Sunday with Sunday matches being cancelled due to the blasts. The tournament offers 32 spots in the main draw in boys’ singles and doubles categories apart from 32 spots in main draw in girls’ singles and 16 spots in girls’ doubles. A total of 13 boys and 16 girls from India are playing in the tournament with Hooda, Amitoz Singh, Sukhman Sahota and Avneet Singh from Chandigarh. “The sign-in and final qualifying rounds have been cancelled today and are expected to happen tomorrow. Other players from Chandigarh like Amitoj and Sukhmani were also in Colombo for the tournament but they lost in the qualifying rounds. CLTA trainee Krishan Hooda is in the main draw of the tournament and we will be heading for sign-in for the tournament on Monday. There are more than 25 Indian players here in Columbo to take part in this championship as this offers points on the junior circuit and is an important tournament,” Singh said.
Sixteen-year-old Krishan Hooda, who was part of Indian junior Davis Cup team last year, will be playing in the main draw and the CLTA trainee too sounded concerned. “Whatever happened today is unfortunate and it should not happen anywhere in the world. As a player, we think about competing in whatever chances we get on the international circuit. We were a bit nervous during the day but we have been told to stay indoors and the security situation is okay now. We hope the situation gets normal soon and we are able to play the tournament from tomorrow,” Hooda said.