A self-styled tennis guru
sage-like qualities of self-belief and persistence are personified
in the context of self-styled tennis guru Naga Bhushan, who is reckoned
as a pioneer of tennis culture in Mumbai. No one can argue about
the enormity and the magnitude of his contribution towards tennis
in the city. From his exploits while representing the Venkateshwara
University in Andhra Pradesh to the coaching camps in Europe, and
the subsequent tennis coaching classes in Mumbai, Bhushan has worked
with single-minded devotion to increase the popularity of tennis
among the masses.
an inquisitive youngster, Bhushan often climbed the walls of the
Republican Club in his hometown Srikalahasti, near Tirupati in Andhra
Pradesh and would observe the doctors, engineers, lawyers and other
professionals slug it out in the club. Bhushan got the opportunity
to acquaint himself with tennis at the Republican Club.
I could not afford a new racket in those days. So I would stitch
the torn rackets of the professionals in the Republic Club and use
the same for my practice, says Bhushan.
represented Venkateshwara University with success in the inter-university
tournaments from 1974 to 1982. His romance with tennis did not cease
even when he graduated to become a professor of Political Science
in Venkateshwara University. Bhushan explains his predicament, I
could not continue my teaching career for more than 3 months because
I used to talk more about tennis rather then political science with
my students. His inclination towards tennis spurred him
to complete a formal coaching course in tennis from Netaji National
Institute of Sports in Patiala in 1981, before he sharpened his
skills at MSLTA in Mumbai.
Bhushan embarked on a trip to Europe and worked as a chief professional
for Powa Sports in Holland in 1985, and as a Director of
Tennis in Camp Candensis in Essex in UK in 1986.
1987, Bhushan also conducted tennis coaching clinics in Singapore,
UK and US. Bhushan established the first private tennis coaching
centre in Mumbai, in the western suburbs at Andheri YMCA in 1984.
After 16 years the scenario has changed completely with more than
100 tennis coaching centres mushrooming from Andheri to Santacruz.
Bhushan established Bhushan Tennis Academy (BTA) in
1988 after years of accumulated experience as a coach in European
countries. The BTA is a unique academy, in a class of its
own, which not only helps its young trainees to climb up the ladder
by training students for the National and State level Ranking tournaments,
but also helps them to secure full scholarships worth Rs 30 to 40
lakh in the prestigious universities of the United States.
One wonders why the universities of USA seek Indians instead of
local students? Naga Bhushan, the director of the BTA will
satisfy your query -The standard of tennis is very high
in the US as a youngster turns professional as soon as he steps
out of matriculation, and begins to play in high level tournaments.
Very few choose to play for the Universities. That is why the Universities
in the US find it convenient to offer scholarships to Asians to
represent them in Inter-University tournaments.
Indeed this has proved to be a boon for Indian students from middle-class
families who cannot even dream of such an expensive proposition.
They can now pursue academics in the US and enjoy the game of tennis
One such student is Mohit Raut who joined the BTA at the
age of six. He completed his HSC in Science from Bhavans College,
Andheri and progressed to bag a prestigious scholarship in Pfeiffer
College in the North Carolina University in the US on the basis
of his tennis schools. Mohit completed a 5 -year integrated course
in Business Management and is currently working for a prestigious
finance company in Atlanta.
Kuntal Joshi is another another BTA trainee who did her
HSC from Mithibai College, Vileparle and was selected for a three
year integrated course in Commerce by Pfeiffer College. She was
an average performer in the local tennis circuit where she was ranked
8th at the National level and 4th at the State Level in the Under-18
category without any tournament victory. However, she was recommended
by BTA as Pfeiffer needed a girl to represent them at Intercollegiate
competitions. At present, she is working for a finance company in
Bhushan has several other students such as Sanchi Ganeriwal, Akshay
Chellappa, and Vivek Parikh who have excelled in the state ranking
tournaments. Even Bhushan's 10-year-old daughter Nayan Bhushan has
shown a penchant for tennis at the competitive level. In addition
to this, he has also given lessons on tennis to Bollywood stars
like Amir Khan and Om Puri. Bhushan has guided many youngsters to
their glory. Being a maker of his own destiny, Bhushan can also
guide you to pen your own success story.
By : Wasim Siddiqui
Photographer : Vinayak Prabhu