Despite having the home advantage; poor fitness level and lack of exposure turned out to be a disadvantage for the local players. All the city-based players who were in action on the opening day crashed out of the first round of the main draw in the ITF Junior Grade 3 tournament at Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) Complex in Sector 10, on Monday.
Out of the 10 local players, eight appeared on the Day One and lost their respective singles matches.
Attributing it to lack of fitness and exposure, CLTA director coaching Gajendra Singh said, the players would now be able to understand where they stand as compared to the foreign opponents.
"It's always tough to play in the ITF tournaments as there are number of good players in the circuit. But I think, the main reason for the local players' ouster was lack of fitness. They might be good for any AITA level tournament, but to compete at this level especially against the foreign players, one needs to have more stamina and energy," Gajendra said.
CLTA's CHART (association's premier rural tennis programme) trainee Ranjeet Singh went down fighting to Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan 4-6,6-3,0-6, while his teammate Paramveer Singh Bajwa also met a similar fate losing a close match to Chih Chun Tang of Taipei 6-4,1-6,2-6. City's wild card entrant Digvijay Singh Naruka also couldn't do much losing to Skander Mansouri of Tunisia 2-6, 3-6, in straight sets. Former CLTA trainees Fatehdeep Singh and Sachin Kumar also lost their matches. Another CLTA trainee Vikas Berwal straight set loss completed the rout in the boys' category.
Now only two local players-Pranav Suri and Nandini Sharma - are left in fray and are slated to play their first round matches on Tuesday.
The girls category also saw ouster of two local wild card entrants Bhavya Wardawan and Gayatri Kumaratah in lop-sided matches.
"Many of these players are yet to play even grade 4 and 5 so it was good exposure for them to straight away play in grade 3," the coach said adding, "It's not that we don't have talent and quality, it's just few areas, which needs to be worked on. We have had players like Sanam Singh who have won Grade 1 and B1 tournaments."
Long term planning the way ahead
Gajendra said the players now need to set their sights on long term goals in order to improve.
"Overall fitness in terms of being able to compete all through the duration of the match is must. The players they played against are not only much higher ranked but are also better in all aspects of the game. Our players need to develop their overall game based on better counter punches and effective hitting, as they will find out that their opponents will not only be able to chase down more balls, but will also hit winners on those," Gajendra said.