BENGALURU: The sixth edition of the Tabebuia Open Wheelchair Tennis tournament, an event on the Indian Wheelchair Tennis Tour (IWTT) will kick off at the Padukone Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence from Wednesday.
The four-day event is sanctioned by All India Tennis Association (AITA) and held under the aegis of the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA).
The event has attracted a total of 41 entries including eight women from across six states (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Orissa). The Tabebuia Open will give the players an excellent opportunity in terms of match practice, ahead of the Nationals to be held in Indore in the last week of March. The star attraction will be 15-year-old Gujjala Raju, India's youngest wheelchair tennis player who makes his professional debut. Raju is a product of IWTT's Junior Program - The First Serve - in collaboration with the RDT and Nadal Foundation at Ananthpur Sports Village.
Asian Games and Commonwealth Games Gold medalist Somdev Devvarman, who was the first Indian to break into the top-100 in world rankings and is on the advisory committee of IWTT, while addressing the press conference via a video call said: "I am honored to be associated with IWTT as an advisor and to have the opportunity to give back to the sport that has given me so much. It is inspiring to see athletes of all abilities come together to compete and showcase their skills, and I am excited to help ensure that they receive the support they need to succeed. Tennis has the power to bring people together and to create positive change in the world, and I am proud to be a part of this meaningful event."
Former Davis Cupper and Asian Games medalist Prahlad Srinath who was the Guest of Honour at the function, felt that everyone should be given an equal opportunity. "I believe that no sport is easy, especially tennis which is physically demanding. I have seen many wheelchair tennis matches and personally know a few players. But believe me it is the same amount of hard work and dedication that is required as for able bodied tennis players. I think they should also be given as many opportunities as regular tennis players get," observed Srinath.
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