Players participating in this year’s District Sports Office (DSO) inter-school tennis tournament, held at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), were left seething after being asked to get their own balls.
A tennis ball of any make might look the same to a layman, but ask any player and he will tell you the effect playing with balls of two different companies can have on his game.
Praneet Kudale of Victoria High School (Mahim), who won the DSO boys’ U-14 title, said, “I have been participating in DSO tournaments for the last three years. DSO is the only tournament where we play with balls that we carry.
Today I played one match with a Wilson ball and the other with a Tetron ball. I took time to adjust to them. Thankfully, I won the title.”
Adith Chandavarkar of Bombay Scottish (Mahim), who is participating in the boys’ U-16 event, said that he finds it difficult to adjust to a new ball for each of his match.
“A Slazenger tennis ball will not behave similar on court like the ones of Wilson or Head or even Tetron. As a player it is difficult to adjust playing with different make balls in a day,” said the 15-year-old.
While it is normal for any DSO tournaments to not provide kids with the ball, some players and parents feel that DSO should at least specify the brand of balls so that there is some uniformity.
“In any other AITA (All India Tennis Association) tournament or even the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) events, the organisers provide the balls.
It’s a shame that DSO cannot provide a bare minimum tennis ball to these kids. We are fine with them asking us to get the balls, but they can at least specify which company’s balls they want?
The reason why sporting standards in our country are so poor is because nobody is bothered about what’s happening at the grassroots level,” said a parent on condition of anonymity.
However, DSO officer Vaishali Ingle justified the rule by saying, “We cannot afford to buy such expensive balls. Hence, we ask the players to get their own balls, as those are the rules laid down by the DSO. We are just following what is being told to us.”
MSLTA secretary Sundar Iyer said, “It is wrong to expect a player to play with three different make balls in a single day. As DSO didn’t have a venue, MSLTA provided them the venue free of cost.
If they would have told us about the ball issue we could have helped them out with a sponsor. I am sure next time we could do something about it.”