.....at the Besant Nagar Tennis Club.
I reproduce here ad verbatim the conversation between me and the coach/ manager/ supervisor of the club.
Me: Excuse me, I want some information on coaching…
Man in cap: yes? Ok. Where do you live?
Me: How does it …….
MIC: Please come in, sit down..where do you live? Do you work?
Me: If I want to be a member here, do I have to tell you where I live?
MIC: Do you work?
Me: Yes..can I get coaching here?
MIC: yes, you can play with the markers for 40/ 45 minutes at 6.30 in the morning. They will feed you balls.
Me: Can I come at 8? I would like to see my children off to school…
MIC: Which school do they go to?
Me: They go at 7.45…(ignoring his question) so 8 is convenient for me.
MIC: The markers are uneducated, illiterate and nobody can tell them what to do. They are mannerless. They want to do other job so they want to go at 8. If you come at 8, they won’t listen to you because you are new. It’s good that you come at 6.30. Members here give them 50, 100 Rupees so that they do a good job.. They are habituated to this. I am also working here for 10 years and I am also suffering.
Me: So you need to bribe the markers to feed you balls?
MIC: Not like that but they also become enthusiastic when you give them money.
Me: I will have to give them something everyday???
MIC: See that boy? His father and I are friends. He is a rich man. So when he comes to the club, the markers will worship him and feed him balls while others are waiting for their turn.
MIC: See it’s up to you. You can start from the bottom, suffer and then come up. Or you can hire a coach. But he is expensive. I have also suffered. For 10 years.
Me: What you are telling me is not very encouraging…it is….(he interrupts me)
MIC: See I don’t want to cheat you or give you false promises (Did I agree to sleep with him in exchange for a house on ECR by the sea, I wondered!)
Me: I mean if you tell this to everybody who enquires about coaching, not many people will join will they?
In the end, I found all this so sickening that I left. Once again I cast an eye on the scene on the courts and decided that I don’t want to play where in a rich man’s club where arrogant little buggers wield rackets because their daddy leaks paper with pictures of Gandhiji. I don’t want to play in a club where the atmosphere reeks of privilege and where players strip off their T-shirts because oh its so hot and sweaty. I don’t want to play because the markers who are the lowest in hierarchy (not unlike the Khaki clad peons) call the shots here and who are too lazy to work unless they are given a monetary incentive. I do not want to play in a club which is nothing but a showcase for ugly attitudes (like T-shirt stripping or holding face under the mouth of a water bottle and then shaking the face under the flow of water). Fuck that and Fuck you Besant Nagar Tennis Club. I don’t judge so easily or harshly but this is my second experience with your club and has been consistent with the first one four years ago. I have no respect for exclusivity nor corridors of privilege and hierarchy when it is based solely on rich daddy and when rich daddy and his kid revel in it (the smile on the son’s face when the coach mentioned his father is a rich man was the one to see. It was a smile full of pride). I hate it, I will never support it and I will never be a part of it. I’d much rather prefer the Grand Slam Tennis Academy on ECR where the coach is quiet, earnest and unassuming. The markers do as they are told, they are encouraging, and never step out of bounds (by assuming a greater role than the coach or by engaging unnecessarily with the players). Go for it people. If you are residing anywhere on ECR and want a good game or coaching, head straight for GSTA. Talk to Coach Guruprasad at 9282160609. Hope you enjoy the game!