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Saturday, June 30, 2001

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A promising youngster


FIVE TITLES and three runner-up positions from as many tournaments - quite a feat by any standards. That is what J. Vishnuvardhan, the Hyderabad schoolboy has achieved in the south zone junior ranking tennis tournaments since the beginning of this year. His latest was a double title in the GVK South Zone All India ranking tournament for juniors which was conducted in Hyderabad recently.

Vishnu won the under-14 as well as the under-16 titles in the Hyderabad tournament and showed his consistency and determination. This lanky youngster who will be fourteen years old in July 2001 is already five feet ten inches tall which gives him a big reach advantage over many other boys of his age. He has the power to pack a good punch behind his shots but his game is not only a power oriented one. He has the ability to combine his forceful forehands with a delicate touch in his backhand shots which can cause an opponent to be taken by surprise.

Moreover he has the ability to be at the right spot at the right time and is rarely caught unawares by any change of tactics by his opponents. His sound mental approach and his playing skills combined with an ability to remain focussed and determined, make him a formidable player in his age group.

A student of the DAV Public School in Safilguda in Secunderabad, Vishnu undergoes coaching at the Railway Recreation Club grounds in Secunderabad where his coach Mr. C. V. Nagraj takes special interest to develop his budding skills. His father Mr. R. Jagadeesan and other family members also provide him with all encouragement to help him fulfill his potential.

Vishnu's talent began flowering as early as 1996 when he finished runner up in the Pravin trophy tournament conducted in Maharashtra and then he followed it up with commendable performances in later tournaments in Hyderabad, Andhra, Bangalore and Maharashtra.

In the south zone junior ranking tournament, this year alone he has so far bagged three titles in the under-14 age group and has been once runner up in the same group. In the under-16 category he has been runner up twice before finally winning the under-16 title in the GVK south zone ranking tournament in Secunderabad recently.

Last year in the School Games in Guna (in Madhya Pradesh) Vishnu was a member of the gold medal winning A.P. team and finished runner up in the individual event and this year in the School Games held at Ahmedabad, Vishnu bagged the gold in the individual event while his team finished runner up.

``My serve is the strongest point of my game,'' says Vishnu who is a great fan of Pete Sampras. ``But I want to improve my volleying and court movement,'' he adds. He doesn't play any other sport but likes to watch basketball. For one who is so young, he is remarkably focussed and apart from tennis, he has no other hobbies - he devotes his free time entirely to tennis and trains for about four hours daily.

Vishnu started playing at the age of eight under the guidance of his coach Mr. C. V. Nagraj at the School of Power Tennis. Incidentally this institute has produced some of the top tennis players in the State who have made a name for themselves at the national and international levels. They include Susheel Narla, a Davis Cup player now in USA, Anant Sitaram who was India number one in under-14 and under-16 categories and also represented India in the World Youth Cup, and V. Vignesh presently the top ranked player in the under-16 category, who has also represented the country in Asia/Oceania zone World Youth Cup in Jakarta earlier this year.

Currently, apart from Vishnuvardhan several other promising youngsters are also undergoing training in this school. They include K. Arjun Reddy, P. Joydep, Preetham Reddy, Preethi Shravan and Afreen Jahan to name just a few.

Vishnu showed his prowess at an early age. He soon started playing in local tournaments and became the State champion in the under-10 age group. As he grew older he did not relinquish his grip on the State title and became the under-12 and then under-14 champion.

``This is the first season when he has done so well in the South Zone All India ranking tournaments by winning under-14 and under- 16 titles,'' says Mr. Nagraj. ``We expect him to perform well at the national level also.''

Analysing Vishnu's game Mr. Nagraj says that the boy has an all court game with a powerful first serve which he can place consistently well. Vishnu's second serve is a high kicking one and is also difficult to deal with.

``His volleys and running ability are good and to top it all he has a cool temperament,'' says Mr. Nagraj. The coach also feels that Vishnu's accurate backhand shots and strong forehands are a big asset. ``Vishnu is a sincere boy and his dedication and hard work are bound to pay rich dividends in the near future,'' says his coach.

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA,

Hyderabad

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