The 40-year-old tennis star announced the offset of this project and put forth some intricate details about the same.
The Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy has announced an initiative in collaboration with The Sports School, which is India’s first integrated school for sports and education.
The program looks to offer 100% scholarship covering both tennis and academics to talented and promising athletes primarily from the Under-12, Under-14 & Under-16 age-groups. The facility is currently based in Kanakpura, Bengaluru and boasts of some splendid facilities for professionals to undergo thorough training in tennis.
“This is one of the best platforms that we can provide. I mean the education is there right from the first standard to the graduation level. There are food-lodging facilities, we have seven hard-courts currently and we are still growing in this role. There is an in-house physiotherapist,” Rohan Bopanna remarked whilst explaining the amenities that would be presented to the concerned athletes.
“This is literally a way of giving back to the sport. If I was 12-13 years old, I would have loved to have a facility like this,” he mentioned. He elaborated of the way in which they had to regularly worry about the travelling whilst also balancing the necessary training hours in his budding years. In addition to that, they always had to ensure that they had a backup career option in place if the interest in tennis did not work out eventually.
Rohan Bopanna even stated, “This scholarship that we are trying to do is the biggest that anybody in any academy has ever done in the world. I don’t think that up to 60 kids for tennis and education has ever been done. I think it is the first of its kind in the world and of course, first of its kind school in India.”
The former French Open Champion proclaiming the scholarship to be the biggest in the world might seem to be an overstatement to some. However, he provided a detailed insight into that topic too. He elaborated, “I don’t think even in the US colleges anyone has given 60 tennis scholarships ever. That is why I say it is being the biggest. If you look at it, even US scholarships very rarely give you 100% tennis and education scholarship.”
He continued, “One or two guys may get it if you are exceptional as a junior, maybe you can get that opportunity. Otherwise, you get maybe 70-80% of scholarship.”
Since it is the first year of the initiative, only the AITA-ranked players from their respective age-groups could apply for an entrance into this project. However, it was also made clear by the Director of the Sports School i.e. Dr Sankar UV that those who fail to bag an entrance through the required assessment tests could induct themselves into the academy by paying the required fees for the different levels.
Esteemed coach Balachandran Manikkath would be leading the coaching contingent in the academy and he reflected upon it by saying, “This concept is very exciting to me because I have never seen anything like this in our country before. When the discussion of giving scholarships came up, it is the best thing that could happen in this case to tennis players but I am sure they are looking at other sports as well. So it’s a great opportunity for children.”
“We will do everything to look to the talent available across the country and give them all the support to make them better tennis players,” Balanchadran concluded.
Rohan Bopanna was asked the manner in which he looks at this process developing in the coming years and whether they would be looking to expand the pool of players too. He said, “We will have to take it step by step and see how this program evolves and see the challenges that we would have. Yes, who knows if the program is growing extremely well then we will increase the scholarships. It will only help the Indian athletes and I really feel that’s the best way forward.
30th June 2020 would be the last day for the submission of applications to be a part of this scholarship setup. It would be interesting to witness the progress of this whole idea under Bopanna’s tutelage.