Tennis Star Somdev Keen to Train Northeast Players

By Sujit Chakraborty

Agartala, Dec 6 (IANS) India's tennis sensation Somdev Devvarman, who won two gold medals at the Guangzhou Asian Games last month, is keen to train promising players from the northeast, his parents say.

"As he belongs to Tripura, he would be very happy if he gets the scope to teach budding and young players from the northeastern states, where there is no dearth of talented and skilled players," Somdev's father Pravanjan Kishore Devvarman, accompanied by his family members, told IANS.

"Efforts are on to build adequate infrastructure in Tripura for the coaching and practice of the tennis players. If a good tennis court can be built, it would be of big help for Somdev to give training to the youngsters."

The Tripura government, Tripura Tennis Association and other sports bodies are now busy trying to give Somdev, 25, a hero's welcome when he returns home here Dec 26.

"Somdev is now in Texas in the US for a month's practice with another world tennis star, Andy Roddick, as his practice partner. He will come to India later this month to participate in the Chennai Open Tennis beginning Jan 3," Devvarman, a retired income tax commissioner, said.

Somdev was born in Assam capital Guwahati Feb 13, 1985, when his father was posted there.

"When I was posted in Chennai, Somdev was a student of Class 3 and was playing almost all major sports. Cricket was his favourite game. Coach Abbas Ali and Gopal Rao turned him to tennis," said Devvarman, accompanied by his wife Ranjana and brother Mukut.

Tripura Tennis Association secretary Sujit Roy said: "The All India Tennis Association is also willing to develop a tennis court in Agartala for Somdev and other northeast tennis players."

He was the men's single god in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, becoming the first to do so as tennis made its debut in this edition.

Replying to Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and Industry minister Jitendra Chowdhury's congratulatory messages, Somdev said: "I am proud of being an Indian and a Tripuri. I am thrilled by the love and support of the people of Tripura."

Earlier, Chief Minister Sarkar in a letter to Somdev said: "You made our country as well as the state proud by winning golds in both the Asian Games in China and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi."

"You have become an immense source of inspiration for all the sportspersons in India as well as Tripura. The people of Tripura are eagerly waiting to see you," Sarkar said in his letter to Somdev.

Tripura Sports Minister Tapan Chakraborty told IANS: "Somdev's success proves beyond doubt that there is no dearth of talent in northeast India and that all these bright youngsters need a platform or an opening to prove their capability."


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