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Moments with Moya

Tennis pro Carlos Moya urges people to do all they can to help tsunami victims

CAP-SPORTING, swaggering, long-legged tennis amateurs were just all around. Whether they were going to play or not, they lugged their racquets around, frequently gripping them tight and narrowing their eyes like they were right in the middle of a match. And they were all waiting for the defending champion of the Chennai Open ATP Tennis Tournament and world number five, Carlos Moya to arrive at Sports-Locker.

It was to be an informal question-answer session where Moya would talk of his favourite songs, his craving for crabs and such other balmy sides of his personality. At the end of it all, there was to be an auction of a Babolat racquet and bag used by Moya, the proceeds from which would aid tsunami victims. One of the organisers said the tennis star was, in fact, quite anxious about getting infected with some disease that might be in the air post-tsunami. Once reassured that it was silly to fear anything of the sort, Moya came forward to interact with some customers and budding tennis stars in the city.

Expresses concern

Still wearing the flower garland, he said that "it is really tragic, the amount of destruction and sorrow the tsunami has caused," and that he was "very concerned about the people who had lost almost everything they had". He urged the audience to do as much as they could to help the tsunami victims.

Immediately after he had finished his little speech, he was mobbed with questions about his method of play and his views on anything that was remotely related to tennis. One man asked Moya if Indian tennis players, being slightly built, could ever hope to make it big in the international arena. Playing the perfect diplomat, the tennis-pro reminded him that India had had great champions 20 years ago, and that he saw "more Indians coming in the future".

There were some great fans too, who kept yelling "King Carlos Moya!" every few minutes. One man picked up a racquet from the stands and waved it at Moya to catch his attention. When that succeeded, he asked him why he wore wristbands of different colours while playing. Obviously impressed and a bit embarrassed, Moya just shrugged and said, "I only try to match my T-shirt and shorts".

A Babolat racquet and bag, both autographed by Moya, were auctioned for Rs. 16,000 and Rs. 7,000 respectively. Once the preliminaries were over and done with, it was all the organisers could do to keep enthusiastic fans away from trying to take pictures with Moya.

ROHINI MOHAN

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