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 Naga Bhushan 

A self-styled tennis guru

Coach Naga Bhushan The 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.

Winners of the National and Maharashtra State Ranking Tennis TournamentAs 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.

Reaching for the skies at the Bhushan Tennis AcademyBhushan 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.

Bhushan teaching racquet skillsIn 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 as well.

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 NewYork.

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


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