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Cops with rifles on court scare Pune player... gives away tennis semis

ATF Asian under 14 Series Tennis tourney in Pune saw the presence of armed police on court for the semifinals. Vardhan Karkal says he felt threatened by the presence of cops and forfeited the match to Shashidhar Kota from Hyderabad.

pune Updated: Jul 06, 2017 15:35 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Tennis,Arun Wakankar Memorial ATF Asian under 14 Series Tennis,Balewadi
Police constables were also in attendance during the ATF under­-14 semifinals in Pune on Thursday.(HT PHOTO)

Rivalry is not new to any sportsperson. However, in the ongoing semi-final match of the Arun Wakankar Memorial ATF Asian under 14 Series Tennis played in Pune, things took a turn for the worse when armed police officials turned out to be the deciding factor for the tennis match on Thursday.

During the match held at the MSLTA School of Tennis, Balewadi, Pune’s Vardhan Karkal felt threatened by the presence of cops on the court and refused to continue playing. He, then, awarded the match to his opponent Shashidhar Kota from Hyderabad.

“I was being watched by three police constables in uniform with assault rifles. This made me uncomfortable and scared and I was not able to focus on the match. I am withdrawing from the match as I cannot play in these intimating circumstances. I am extremely mentally disturbed,” said Vardhan, in a protest letter submitted to the tournament director.

Vardhan’s father Suhan Karkal alleged that the parents of Shashidhar Kota used their influence in the police department and called the cops to scare his son.

“These police officials came out of nowhere and we had no idea why they were here as no VIPs were present at the courts. No one can justify their presence and their assault rifles were enough to scare any 13-year-old. My son later told me that he thought that one of the cops might shoot in his legs,” he said.

“We saw Shashidhar’s mother talking to one of the officials and our doubts were cleared. The cops left when the match was over. So this was clearly an attempt to put my kid under pressure. We have decided to give a written protest to authorities against them,” he said. Shashidhar’s mother, Jyoti, said that the allegations were baseless.

“We never went to the police, we never lodged a complaint and I don’t know why the cops were there at the venue. Since morning I have been harassed about this issue. For the goodness of the game, I would say that we are not at all involved in any such issue,” she said.

“If you look at the All India Tennis Association ranking, my son is 22 with 300 points, whereas Vardhan is on the 47th place with just 185 points. My son is a much better player and doesn’t need any external support to win,” Jyoti said.

Tournament director Sundar Iyer said, “This is a unique incident. We never experienced such a thing before, so we have no rules and regulations to deal with it. We have informed the Asian Federation and will wait for their verdict. Till then Shashidhar is allowed to play in the tournament as no technical issue has been reported against him,” said Iyer.

The tournament director said that as both the players or their parents have neither informed nor lodged a complaint with them, so it is for them (both the players and their parents) to sort out the issue.

“If they are claiming that their son was threatened, then instead of calling for police protection they should have informed the tournament supervisor. Similarly, Vardhan should have taken the matter to officials instead of forfeiting the match. We even offered to replay the match at the centre court, without allowing even parents. However, Vardhan refused to play,” he said.

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 11:13 IST