Vilasier Khate has been playing tennis for as long as he can remember. He has been training for more than six years at the National Tennis Academy itself but it is the first time he is getting to represent his state,Nagaland,as he participates in the Inter-State Tennis Tournament. In fact,he represented India in an international tournament before he could relish the joy of winning for his state. On Wednesday,that joy turned into pride. After blanking the heavy weights in their group Bengal 3-0,his team also beat Mizoram 3-0 to make the quarterfinal a first in any national tournament for Nagaland.
Khate would rate the current achievement as high as the ITF Juniors doubles title he had won last year,for here he proudly wears ‘Nagaland’ on his back.
“No words… I am just too happy to win for my state,” says Khate. Asa Khate,the non-playing captain for the team,completes the rest: “He may have a small frame but he has a big heart to learn and Nagaland Tennis Association is happy with how he fast he is learning.” Khate has made it to the pre-quarters in ITF Juniors singles in every event he has played in the last one year,reaching the quarters twice and falling in the semis once,apart from claiming several AITA titles. The titles are understandably a part of the state’s success story in tennis.
“Ever since they joined the NTA in 2006,the Naga boys have won 42 titles,” Asa asserts their success story.
But the win for Nagaland,the minnows,over the fancied Bengal was far more special because of the running rivalry that the two states have had. “If we have five tennis coaches in our state,Bengal takes away two of them,so we are happy to beat the big state but we learn from everyone around too.
“It is tough to build infrastructure in Nagaland,but it is tougher to build champions. And that is what we want to do,” Asa says.