Almost three decades have passed when my love affair with tennis began. Today I often wonder how a village boy like me got into Tennis which is primarily considered an urban and elite sport. I belong to a very small non descript village of Punjab bordering Chandigarh called Chilla Manoli. I was an ordinary village boy. Only thing which perhaps separated me from other boys was perhaps my extra ordinary level of energy and strong desire to do well in life. But there was no channel to harness my energy. Then suddenly Chart Scheme of Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA ) happened. It was year 1987 or 1988 when CLTA decided to launch a special talent hunt scheme. The perpose of the scheme was to unearth raw talent which was supposed to be in abundance in rural Punjab.
I was selected in the first batch of Chart Scheme, which was primarily the brain child of Rajan Kashyap, the doyen of Indian Tennis. He was heading CLTA at that time and was very keen to nurture new talent. The scheme proved to be a huge success and I consider myself as the most befitting example of that. Had this scheme not happened, I would perhaps not even ever laid a hand on a tennis racket. My journey as a tennis professional started from CLTA and the man who shaped my destiny is none but Mr Rajan Kashyap. He not only spotted talent in me but also ensured its culmination. I not only got admission in the academy run by CLTA but also got admission in a local school for studies. At CLTA I was provided free diet and even free equipment. Needless to say that I could not have afforded all this on my own. Rajan Kashyap ji always had sharp eye for spotting tennis talent and I am lucky that he found that spark in me and made me what I am today.
Another man whom I owe a lot in life is my first coach Wing Commander Beant Singh, one of the finest coach CLTA ever had. He taught me the finer points of the sport and always emphasized on the physical fitness. He was a great motivator also. I am lucky that I had such an intelligent, knowledgeable and considerate coach. With the support and blessings of these two stalwarts, my tennis career always headed in the right direction. I made my mark as a player in the nineties and then as a coach and official in later years. The Chart Scheme has transformed a village boy like me into tennis professional. This scheme took me to the Wimbledon, The Australian Open host of other tournaments. I am not the only one who has made up so high because of Chart Scheme. List of the beneficiaries is impressive and endless.
I must say that Chart Scheme is one of its kind initiative. Full marks go to CLTA and Rajan Kashyap ji. But I often wonder why the success and zeal of this scheme is not being replicated on a much larger scale, particularly in Punjab. Youth of Punjab is full of energy alas it has not been channelized in the right direction. We have a huge problem of drug abuse. Youngsters are just wasting their yoyuth and getting addicted to various narcotic substances. Only way we can save our youth is through sport. We need thousands of Chart Schemes, not in Tennis but in all other sports.