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Tennis takes a backseat in holy land

The India-Philippines series at Puttaparthi could not take place because of bizarre circumstances, reports Deepika Sharma.

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2008 21:26 IST
Deepika Sharma

Tennis was not quite blessed in the land of the Sathya Sai Baba. The India-Philippines tennis test series at Puttaparthi — the home of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba — could not take place a couple of weeks ago because of bizarre circumstances.

According to sources, the first of the two ties — India won the second 3-0 at the DLTA facility here — did not happen because the Sai Baba could not turn up to inaugurate the tie and bless the players.

“We were ready to start the match, when suddenly, we were told that the matches would not take place,” a player told HT on Monday. “It was really frustrating that the matches could not place because Sathya Sai Baba did not turn up to bless us and inaugurate the event,” he added. “Doordarshan had even started telecasting the first game when we came to know that we were being packed off without playing.” They were apparently told that it would be “inauspicious” to begin playing at the new tennis stadium (reportedly an outstanding facility) without the Sai Baba's blessings.

A DD sports director, Isaac, confirmed to HT that they “were prepared” to go on air. “We were all set to telecast the match live. We had even gone on air for five minutes,” he said. The reason for the official cancellation of the tie though, is obviously different. The president of the Asian Tennis Federation, also the secretary-general of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Anil Khanna, held “power failure” the actual reason for abandoning the tie.

“The first tie was called off because there was a power failure. We wanted to play under the floodlights but since there was no electricity, we had to call off the tie,” said Khanna. Incidentally, the first tie was to begin at 5pm (when it wouldn't have been dark).