If one has to link Iran and tennis, Mansour Bahrami is the only name which comes to mind, the magician who mastered his skills using brooms and pans instead of a racquet.
Today, if one searches for Iranian tennis players on the internet, the result throws up names of 10 seniors and a top-300 junior. A country where football and wrestling are popular, tennis is viewed as a recreational activity. Thus, it was only when the Madanchi family shifted to Dubai eight years ago did young Amirvala take up tennis, a sport the 17-year-old has dreams of playing professionally.
Under the watchful eyes of grandfather, Bahram, the volatile youngster lost 5-7, 4-6 in the second round to Korea's Dukyoung Kim on Wednesday. "I'm the real coach, trying to calm him down whenever he's angry on court," joked Bahram.
Incidentally, Iran have been relegated and will compete in Davis Cup Group III Asia/Oceania matches. Though a recreational sport, tennis is expensive in Iran --- one has to shell out $150 for a court and coach and that's only for 45 minutes.
"I have to play in Iran in summer because our federation demands it but I don't like playing there for long. I would prefer playing more junior ITF tournaments but it's tough," said the youngster, who had the sparse crowd in splits with his on-court antics during his match.
The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy has shown interest and offered 75 per cent aid to Amirvala if he decides to move to Florida next year - an offer he intends to make full use of.