Tournament Director Paul Hutchins is blogging from India as the first qualifying events for the Road to Wimbledon in India 2015, supported by HSBC, come to an end in Kolkata.
Finals day of the first of four Road to Wimbledon events and all went well.
Some good grass court tennis from the juniors with Shashank Theertha beating Vipul Mehta and in the girls top seed Prinkle Singh beating Shivani Amineni both matches in straight sets.
None of the players before this week had played on grass. The boys with their big serves saw short rallies and the girls hard hitting groundstrokes.
All four players hopefully will qualify for the Masters in April and will have a good chance of doing well and who knows maybe win the top prize of an invite to our 2015 HSBC Road to Wimbledon National Finals week 10 August.
HSBC Ambassador Tim Henman flew in overnight with no sleep from the Abu Dhabi HSBC golf tournament where he partnered Ernie Els in the pro-am.. Tim came straight to the South Club and was keen to watch both matches and take part in the presentations.
He then played on the grass showing the finalists and Siddhant Banthia, the 2014 HSBC Road to Wimbledon winner, how to react to the fast surface showing his still considerable skills. Tim and Dan demonstrated for the good crowd some drills followed by a short game of cricket and then straight into another media conference.
The Deputy High Commissioner and his wife and many Club and Bengal Tennis Associations officials were present at the finals as well as former Indian tennis legend Naresh Kumar who played at Wimbledon in the 50’s for 20 years and goes back each year to visit the Championships.
"It is wonderful to see you bring junior tennis to India and all the other coaching activities that you bring. I have such strong and historical views of the Championships and I am ever hopeful of Indian juniors improving and getting to play at Wimbledon on the grass."
After a number of interviews we then headed to the DSK club to officially open the ITF grade 3 International tournament which is in its 23 year.
A very large formal ceremony with all the competitors lining up to be introduced to us and speeches prior to the juniors practicing on clay pre the tournament starting tomorrow.
This was followed by another press conference and then back to the hotel to prepare for an evening function at the Royal Kolkata race course.
Quite a week with everyone being so keen and hospitable and great to get to know some of the juniors and the parents.
The Bengal tennis Association and the South Club were fantastic hosts.
Next up, Chandigarh.
Find out more about the HSBC Road to Wimbledon.