Epic battle of rackets at Calcutta South Club, with The Telegraph

The Merchants Cup Tennis Competition 2018, organised by the Merchants Cup Tennis Association (MCTA) in association with The Telegraph, saw some action-packed games at Calcutta South Club from May 27 to June 2. With 11 corporate houses taking part in the main categories and 12 corporate houses distributed among four teams participating in the Open category, the tournament saw intense competition between 55 players. Despite heavy rains delaying the finals by a day, the participants’ enthusiasm remained intact, with all the players bringing their A game. The prize distribution ceremony at Taj Bengal on June 2 wrapped up the tourney.

Future Generali were the Open category winners for the second year in a row, beating Disha Learning Systems. (L-R) Joy Banerjee and Indradeep Mitra made the winning team. “We were the champions last year in the inaugural Open category and it feels great to see our hard work being rewarded again this time. The ethos of the Merchants Cup makes this win sweeter,” said Joy.

Selvel were crowned champions in the Gold Plate category, defeating the defending champions CESC (Blue) in the finals. Noomi Mehta (extreme left), chairman of the Selvel Group, was there to support his team — (l-r) Rishi Chaturvedi, Neelabha Dhar and Rajiv Ghosh. They took the award from Kumud Patnaik (extreme right), principal commissioner, Income Tax Central 2, Calcutta (IRS) and his wife Preeti. “Tournaments like this help inculcate a habit of playing sports among corporates. The healthy competition and high-intensity game also establishes a sense of bonhomie, which is crucial in today’s individualistic world,” said Patnaik.

IBM (Blue) pulled off a hat-trick as they emerged winners of the Silver Plate, beating GMS Pvt Ltd. Teammates Avijit Sarkar (first from left), Rajesh Kumar (second from left) and Debabrata Ghosh (extreme right) took their award from Team India goalkeeper Subrata Paul (second from right), the guest of honour. “We owe this win to our indomitable team spirit. We had been hoping for a third win here and it’s a surreal feeling to do it yet again. Hopefully we will be able to pull off a fourth next year,” said Avijit. 

The evening was a memorable one for tennis pro Akhtar Ali who was felicitated with a lifetime achievement award. A cake was cut and Ali was presented with a customised blazer by the MCTA. “I am emotional tonight. It is extremely encouraging to see so many corporates take to tennis year after year through this tournament. I hope this tournament continues to scale even greater heights,” he said.

Ashish Sen — a Merchants Cup veteran and the MCTA secretary — represented CESC (Blue). He played a skilful game and his team landed the runners-up position in the Gold Plate category. “I’ve been playing this tournament for over 20 years now and with each passing year, it is extremely exciting to see new corporates participating. I hope to come back next year and win the Gold Plate title,” he said. 

Gurbux Singh (right) handed over the Best Doubles Team prize to (l-r) Anup Singh and Vijay Mittal of GMS Pvt Ltd.

Sujata Karnani, representing the Electrosteel Group, wowed us with her glorious backhand. The former state-level player has a career-best national ranking of 7. “This is a great competition and I encourage more women to participate in the future,” she said, as she took a participatory token from Minu Budhia. 

Rajiv Seth, from the Tata group, not only played the longest match of the competion — a three-and-a-half hour nail-biter — but, as the event director for the MCTA, ensured that the entire week progressed without a glitch. “This is the first time in our tournament’s history that we’ve had female participants. It is a matter of great pride for us and we encourage more women to participate in the coming years. The Open category that we introduced last year is also gaining momentum, and we hope to welcome more corporates in the future,” he said.

Shreevats Goswami dropped by.

Text: Vedant Karia
Pictures: Biswajit Kundu


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