Mar 07, 2012 at 12:12pm IST

Hyderabad: Tennis turns costlier for wannabe Sania Mirzas

HYDERABAD: When the four clay courts at the Sanjeevaiah Park and the Necklace Road of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) went for an annual auction this year, there was a surprise bid of Rs 9.2 lakh, up from Rs 2.9 lakh. It stunned the few coaches and the old tennis academy run by Nilkanteshwar, who had to distance himself from the courts, for the simple reason that he couldn’t afford it. Tariq Ali Khan, the Dubai-returned coach, has taken over the courts.
The development has raised quite a few eyebrows and left many wondering whether tennis is becoming a costly affair. Tariq admits it is too costly a bid but he hopes to provide the best tennis coaching facility to trainees.
“It is an expensive bid but I was looking for a place where I could get more trainees,” said Khan, who also coaches at the Secunderabad Club and the Hyderabad Public School where the general public are not allowed to practice. Khan is expecting to cash in during the summer when there will be at least 100 children.
The HMDA courts are nothing compared to the SAAP courts at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium where the coaches have to reportedly shell out Rs 24 lakh a month. There are about 30-40 tennis coaching camps in the city. Ever since Sania Mirza hit the headlines, many parents have shown great interesting in getting their kids into tennis. A few have been successful and a few have burnt their fingers. “A parent has to spend a minimum of Rs 10,000-15,000 at the start. The expenses double up as the players improve,” says CV Nagaraj, School Of Power Tennis, who runs an academy at RRC grounds.
Nagaraj, who has produced three national champions, said for a beginner, most of the coaches charge from Rs 1,250 to 2,000. From then on, the cost increases. For advance coaching, it is around Rs 3,000-5,000 as more tennis balls will be given to the trainees. For regular players, it becomes Rs 5,000 per month.
Apart from training, there are racquets (Rs 2,500-Rs 5,000), shoes (Rs 4,500-Rs 5,000)and other expenses. If a player plays outside the state, it becomes even more expensive. For instance Y Kishore, father of the promising Y Pranjala, says he was lucky to have his daughter under Sanjay, who still charges Rs 3,600. “A parent has to make a few sacrifices. It sometimes pinches our pocket as  there are times we end up spending Rs 20,000 for a tournament,” said Kishore.
Another parent complained that in the name of coaching, some coaches fleece their children. “For extra coaching, we have to pay extra money. I put my eldest child but the moment I realised it was not within the reach of a middle class family, I withdrew my second kid from the game,” he said.

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