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Neepco grant to aid tennis

Guwahati, April 8: Tennis in Assam has got a shot in the arm with the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco) Ltd coming forward with financial support of Rs 12 lakh to implement coaching programmes and support talented players from economically weaker backgrounds.

The premier power generation company of the region has extended one-time grants of Rs 6 lakh each to the All Assam Tennis Association (AATA) and the North East Tennis Foundation (NETF) here.

Neepco director (personnel) I.P. Baruah handed over the cheque to AATA president Subhash Das and secretary Raktim Saikia yesterday.

He said the grant was from its annual corporate social responsibility allocation of over Rs 3 crore, most of which is spent on socio-cultural activities in areas closer to their power generation stations.

Saikia said the funds would be used to hold various coaching programmes of the AATA.

“We organise six advanced coaching camps annually, involving leading coaches like Vece Paes and Nandal Bal at a cost of nearly Rs 14 lakh. It is because of these camps that two of our players — Parikshit Somani and Bijoy Kumar Mohanty — are among the top 10 rankings in the national circuit. It was part of our five-year target announced in 2007 to produce national level players, which we have achieved partially and are working towards producing internationals within the next five years,” he said.

The under-14 fourth ranked Mohanty, who is supported by the AATA, is also among the reserves for the World Cup juniors.

“The Neepco fund is going to help us a lot in our endeavours to produce players and we will request the company to make this grant an annual one,” Saikia added.

On the players from the association’s academy at the Chachal tennis complex here, Saikia said efforts were on to produce quality players but there were various constraints, including financial, in its endeavours.

While Somani is a produce of the Jorhat Tennis Club and is currently based in Calcutta, Mohanty is a trainee of the Sports Authority of India Guwahati sub-centre.

Mohanty, who is at present participating in a ranking tournament in Hyderabad, will join the AATA academy on return, Saikia added.

He also said the holding of three international tournaments, six national rankings and nine state ranking meets annually during the last few years was helping the state players tally points to climb up the rankings.

In tennis, players have to bear their own expenses to participate in various tournaments and, thus, players from economically weaker background often have to skip important ranking events.