Updated: January 3, 2017 5:55:07 pm
Where North India shivers it out in the early parts of January and fog not helping matters to alleviate matters, the south – specifically Chennai – endures multiple emotions. On one side there is the sweltering heat and body-piercing sunshine of the afternoon, on the other side of the fence is the cool breeze that hits the metropolitan city in the evening. Neither, as it turns out, has affected the mood and dispelled the crowd at the Chennai Open.
Where hundreds have been showing up for the qualifying matches and then the main draw matches in the evening, with outside courts being packed to capacity, there was no buckling the trend in the afternoon heat on Tuesday.
An astounding 956 kids showed up – with parents in tow – for the ‘Play the Pros’ activity in an attempt at setting a World Record for the largest tennis lesson. And just as the courts started to fill up with six outside courts in use, the record was set. The previous record – as per the Guinness World Records – stood at 803 participants in Liverpool, United Kingdom on June 17, 2015. A year prior to that, USTA had set the then record of 406 kids at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York.
At the closing stages of the activity, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna walked out for the photo opportunity.
However, the best was saved for the last and it wasn’t part of the campaign. With the photos taken and kids dispersing, a kid hung around on Court 4. Paes spotted the kid and without much being said, started to hit him. Some from the back of the court and then the veteran approached the net to return some volleys with the kid returning in kind with well-struck forehands from the baseline.
This, didn’t get much of the attention or the eyeballs, but beyond such activities, the expectations should be to have more youngsters taking up the racket for the future.
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