One is an engineering student and the other, a journalist. And have one thing in common —- they were in London this month to officiate in pre-Wimbledon tournaments. For the young Sagar Kashyap and Shreeram Gokhale being at the lawns of Wimbledon and soaking in the atmosphere has been an experience of a lifetime.
Twenty-one year old Kashyap —- a final year student at the Vidya Vikas Institute of Engineering in Mysore and an ITF Level I umpire —- became the youngest Indian to officiate at a Grand Slam event after being picked as a line umpire in the Wimbledon qualifiers recently.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Shreeram Gokhale, a level II umpire, officiated at the Boodles Challenge —- an exhibition event for the Wimbledon where top players like Serbian Novak Djokovic, Russian Nikolay Davydenko and the American Bryan Brothers took part.
“I was a national level player but turned towards umpiring. I cleared an ITF exam after which I became an International White Badge official. And now, I got a chance to travel to London and officiate in the qualifiers which is a huge boost to my career,” Kashyap told HT from London.
Gokhale, too, relished the opportunity to be at SW19. “It feels good when you’re amongst the best umpires who come here to officiate from all over the world,” said Gokhale, who has also umpired in all the WTA and ATP events in the country.
Apart from officiating, both Kashyap and Gokhale have other duties to fulfil. “Since it is my final in engineering, I have to prepare for my exams. It is sometimes difficult to cope with the pressure but so far I have been able to strike a balance,” Kashyap said.
For Gokhale, a sports writer from Pune, he only has his bosses to thank. “My bosses have been really nice to me. They have supported me throughout,” Gokhale said.