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Tennis prodigy

Ranked sixth by the AITA, Vinay Kamineni shows a lot of potential.



Vinay practising at the nets.--- Photos: K.R. Deepak

When Vinay Kamineni's parents put him in tennis their idea was that he should not while away his after-school hours. Located very near to the place where they were staying a few years ago was the NRI Tennis Academy and Vinay started going there regularly.

But he took to tennis like a fish to water and started winning local tournaments. This made his mother, Lalitha, and then his father, Koteswara Rao, to pay more attention on his game and they started making proper plans for him.

Vinay, who will complete 14 years in a few months, is doing well in the national circuit. He is now ranked sixth by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) in the under-14 category. From the stage when he was given the tennis racket to spend his spare time in a purposeful manner, Vinay has grown to a stage where he is aspiring to represent India in future. The hard work and determination should be seen to be believed. He spends at least four hours every day on the tennis court and has solid backing of his parents. It is not a surprise if he realised his dream of representing India soon.



Vinay cooling himself after a hard day's practice.

In the first two months of this year, Vinay played in six tournaments and picked up three singles and two doubles titles, after claiming the gold medal in the all-India Schools Games tournament in December last.

Vinay won the singles title at the AITA championship series held at Kolkota in January, followed by the titles at the Super Series at Sambalpur and Guwahati. In the Guwahati tournament, he annexed the doubles title (in partnership with Priyank Gangadharan of Tamil Nadu). After these achievements he was ranked fourth by AITA in February with 201 points. He did not participate in three tournaments after February due to examinations, which saw him drop to seventh spot. However, Vinay came back strongly in the Super Series held at the National Tennis Academy at Gurgaon during the second week of May. Top seed in the main draw, Vinay lost in the semi-finals to his opponent after an extended match, which went to three sets. But he claimed the doubles with V. Sudarshan (TN).

The performance in the singles event here pushed Vinay one rung up. His present points tally is 233.5. Vinay is participating in super series tournaments only since other tournaments do not fetch him AITA ranking points.

Vinay started the game under the tutelage of Anil in 1998. In the initial years he was sent to every summer to the camps run by Nagaraju at Hyderabad and in 2001 he attended the camp organised by Bhupathi. At present he regularly practices at the NRI Tennis Academy under the watchful eyes of the coach, Gopi. The Siva Sivani School, where he is studying VIII standard, made a fine gesture of encouragement by waiving his school fee.

G. NARASIMHA RAO

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