New Delhi :
Taking a dig at the four Grand Slam nations, ITF Vice President Anil Khanna today said it was a big disadvantage for countries like India to be in the Asian region, which lacks tournaments for the players to grow.
Khanna, who is also AITA President, was speaking at the launch of Rendez-vous, a joint initiative of French Tennis Federation (FFT) and AITA.
Flanked by Sam Primaut, FFT Director of Development, Khanna said players in Europe had natural advantage of having access to umpteen number of tournaments and good infrastructure.
“It’s a big disadvantage to be in Asia. The hub of tennis is Europe. 50 countries in Europe have hundreds of tournaments. Their players have easy accessibility to events. They don’t need visa and travel cost is low but the Asian players have to spend on air fare and hotel for a week even if they lose in first round. It is very costly for them,” Khanna said.
Khanna said India has made progress and lauded the players who have made it to top-100 and top-200 without having many big tournaments at home.
“The good story for Indian tennis is that there are four players in top-200. Only 16 other nations have four players in top-200 and 11 of those nations are in Europe. From Asia, only India and Japan are there,” Khanna said.
“We have the second highest number of tennis players in the world after US, we are growing. If India were a Grand Slam nation, we would have 10 players in top-100. If India were in Europe, India would have 10 players competing in Grand Slams,” he opined.
He reasoned that a Grand Slam nation commands eight wild cards and if India had one such tournament, the players would have made money besides earning ranking points.
“The first round loser gets so much money and points that ranking sky-rocket. We host about 40 ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments which is the highest in Asia. In juniors we host the fourth highest number of tournaments in the world and all that is without the help of government.
“And there is no money in tennis, we don’t get sponsors.
Asia is not getting enough tournaments.” The veteran sports administrator said of the four Grand Slam nations and France was willing to work in the interest of the game.
“Tennis is led by four Grand Slam nations and out of four, one is ready for change. FFT is more global, in the interest of world tennis and it is not just about one tournament. That is a primary reason and motivation to bring clay courts,” Khanna said.