Previewing Tennis nationals 2010 The Indian invasion!

by Revata S. Silva


- From ‘There’s Something Wrong with the Ceylon Tennis,’ an observation by a spectator at the Nuwara Eliya National Tennis Championship in 1947 published in ‘The Ceylon Causerie’ of June, 1947


There have been nearly 25 Indians who have won the Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) tennis Nationals since the tournament first began in 1884.

Some of the leading Indian players to emerge All Ceylon champions are as follows:

Ramanathan Krishnan (born 11 Apr., 1937, in Madras):

He has been among the world’s leading players in the 1950s and ’60s. Krishnan honed his skills under his father, T. K. Ramanathan. He soon made his mark on the National circuit, sweeping all the junior titles.

In 1954, he became the first Asian player to win the boy’s singles title at Wimbledon, beating Ashley Cooper in the final. In 1959, Krishnan played in the men’s singles competition at Wimbledon losing in the third round to Alex Olmedo.

Krishnan received the Arjuna award in 1961, the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Padma Bhushan in 1967.

Ramesh Krishnan emulated his father’s achievement of winning the Wimbledon junior title, and went on to become a leading Indian tennis player in the 1980s.


Anand Amritraj (born 20 March 1952, Chennai, Tamil Nadu):

He was part of the Indian team for 1974 Davis Cup, which advanced to the finals of the tournament and then forfeited the championship to South Africa as the Government of India decided to boycott the matches in protest against South Africa’s Apartheid policies. His son Stephen Amritraj is also a professional tennis player.


Akhtar Ali (born 5 July 1939):

He was the member of the Indian team that reached the final of Davis Cup in 1967. He was a member of the Indian Davis Cup team continuously from 1958-64. Helped win the Eastern region in 1961 Davis Cup. Former Captain of Indian Davis Cup team in 2008.

Later he turned to coaching and coached the players like Ramesh Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Anand Amritraj and Leander Paes. He is father of Zeeshan Ali, a former Indian National tennis champion.

He won the Arjuna Awards in Lawn Tennis in 2000.

Ghaus Mohammad Khan (1915 – 1982):

He is from Lucknow and was the first Indian to reach the quarter-finals in the Wimbledon in 1939 where he lost to American Bobby Riggs.

Sumant Misra (born 11 Jan., 1923 in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh):

He played on the India Davis Cup team for seven years beginning in 1947-53. He reached the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship (along with Jimmy Mehta) in 1947 and 1948 and the US National doubles in 1947.

He is called ‘the grandfather of Indian tennis’, Misra was initiated into the game by his father Sri L. P. Misra, then chief commissioner of Indian Railways. Misra won the first Grass Court National Championship of India that was held at Calcutta South Club in Woodburn Park Road, Calcutta in 1946.

Nirupama Mankad nee Vasant (born Jan., 17, 1947 in Karachi, now in Pakistan):

Nirupama Mankad is the daughter of G. Vasant, a leading tennis player in India in his time. She survives her husband, the late Ashok Mankad, a former Indian Test cricketer. Their son Harsh Mankad is an Indian Davis Cup player.

Mankad won the Asian Women’s tennis championship in 1965 at the age of 17. She played Wimbledon junior event in 1965 and partnered Anand Amritraj in the mixed doubles event in 1971, reaching the second round. She was India’s top ranked tennis player between 1965 and 1978, winning the National championship seven times during this time. She won the Indian government’s Arjuna award in 1980.

The Indian Participants:

Men’s Champions (17) –

L. V. Loos (1926), N. Krishnaswamy (1935, 1936), Y. R. Savur (1937), A. G. Gupta (1940), B. R. Kapinapathay (1946), Ghaus M. Mohamed (1948), I. Ahamed (1949, 1951), Ramanathan Krishnan (1956), S. C. Misra (1958, 1959), S. Akthar Ali (1960, 1962), R. Venkatesan (1964, 1972), Anand Amritraj (1968, 1971), Saeed Meer (1974), Jamiel Ahamed (1976), Pravin Singh (1978), R. Suarez (1981) and S. Narla (1996)

Women’s Champions (6) –

K. Singh (1948), Miss. Udaya Kumar (1972), Miss. Susan Das (1973), Mrs. Nirupama Mankad (1975), Miss. Kamala Hegde (1980) and Miss. R. Krishnan (1982).


Source: ‘75 Years of the SLTA’ compiled by Lam Seneviratne, published by the SLTA in 1990 and Wikipedia.

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