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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

MSLTA-ITF Junior Grade 3 U-18 tennis: Victory? Check. Quarter-final berth? Czech.

Czech Republic’s 17-year-old Vitek Horak feels at home in the city of Pune.

pune Updated: Dec 05, 2019 16:21 IST
Oumar Aga
Oumar Aga
Hindustan Times, Pune
Czech player Vitek Horak ranked fourth in Europe in the under-14 category four years ago is excited to play in the quarter-final on Thursday.
Czech player Vitek Horak ranked fourth in Europe in the under-14 category four years ago is excited to play in the quarter-final on Thursday.(MILIND SAURKAR/HT)
         

PUNE Casually strolling by the Deccan Gymkhana tennis courts on a cloudy day after confirming his presence in the last-eight on Wednesday of the MSLTA-ITF Junior Grade 3 U-18 Tennis Championship, the Czech Republic’s Vitek Horak feels at home in the city of Pune.

The 17-year-old is eager to step outside his hotel room and visit “the Shaniwarwada fort”, as he calls it.

The Czech player, who was ranked fourth in Europe in the under-14 category four years ago, is excited to play in the quarter-final on Thursday, but is also eager to set his racquet aside to have a day out in Pune with his compatriot, Mathias Musil.

The duo have already started short-listing the places they want to visit before they have to leave and return to their hometown, Prague. On the court, Horak believes Pune is still lagging behind in term of infrastructure and facilities for players.

“People are very friendly here and that has helped me a lot. I was nervous since this is my first trip to India, but I have adjusted really well”, said the Czech.

Horak is also enjoying the local cuisine at his hotel. After taking the shuttle back to his room every day, he rushes to order his favourite Indian delicacy.

With a glint in his eye, Horak said, “I go to the hotel and either order a chicken tikka masala or chicken tandoori. The food here is too spicy and people tell me that I turn red while eating, but I enjoy it and it is totally worth it.”

Horak has been a fan of Indian cuisine before he arrived in the country, for the first time earlier this week. The Czech is a frequent visitor at a restaurant in Prague which serves Indian food.

Enjoying the cool and breezy climate on Wednesday, Horak said that Pune would be one his favourite cities in the world if the tennis standards were better.

According to the Czech player, authorities need to invest more and provide better facilities for players. “The facilities here are not bad, but they are not the best either. Back in Prague and other countries in Europe, the authorities have invested a lot of money which has given us proper infrastructure, coaches and match officials,” said Horak.

Speaking of tennis in India, the 17-year-old also wanted to throw in a word of appreciation for his favourite Indian tennis player - Leander Paes. “I have seen him play in the doubles category and his footwork and strokes are very clever,” said Horak.

In the doubles category, Horak and Musil lost before they could enter the quarter-final stage, and Musil lost his singles bout against India’s Arnav Pathange in the pre-quarter final round.

Vitek Horak won the ITF Grade 4 U-18 tournament in Prague last year, and then had to take break for months due to an injury. He has recovered completely and is eager to win in Pune. With a part of his brain thinking about exploring the city, there is a part of it which wants him to work hard and win the tournament this year. The Czech thinks Dev Javia is the most promising Indian player in the tournament this year and he would love to face him in the final, if both players manage to reach that far.