A Centre of Excellence, under the guidance of Somdev Devvarman, will soon be established at the DLTA to provide coaching to budding players but the development has cast a doubt over the future of the grassroots level program, which has been running there for four decades. Scouting has begun for coaches, sports psychologist and physios, who will work in tandem at the upcoming National Academy, which will have involvement of the Sports Ministry.
Under the supervision of India's former number one singles player Somdev, who is also a government observer for the sport, a comprehensive plan has been submitted by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to the Sports Ministry for approval.
It has been learnt that coaching in various age groups has been planned and a foreign coach will also be roped in.
A sports science centre is also being planned at the Academy and qualified physios and sports psychologist will be hired for all round development of the players.
The Academy will accommodate about 300 kids for coaching and at least 100 of them will be able to stay after relocating from their respective states.
The Centre would require an annual budget of at least 20 crore to sustain and the plan is being scrutinised by the Ministry.
"Who can be better than Somdev to plan such a project. He is Commonwealth Games and also Asian Games gold medallist," AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI, confirming the development.
However, it has put a question mark over future of Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA)'s junior coaching program which one of the oldest in the country, and close to 20 coaches who are working there for more than 20 years. Some coaches are involved for three decades.
When asked specifically about the future of DLTA coaching program, Chatterjee did not reveal if it will continue or taken off or merged with the upcoming Centre of Excellence.
"We will discuss it when we come to it," was Chatterjee's terse reply.
When Somdev was contacted, he refused to comment, saying the project was still taking shape.
It has been learnt that the Sports Ministry will not object if DLTA runs its own program simultaneously but it remains to be seen what is eventually decided.
About 200 kids are taking classes by paying just Rs 3000 per month while private academies in Delhi charge anything between 10 to 50,000 a month.
Also, close to 150 government school students get free coaching at DLTA.
DLTA currently has 15 coaches, who help in running the junior program. A few coaches also provide private coaching by paying a fee to DLTA for renting out courts.
Now it is unclear if they will be allowed to continue their programmes or will be asked to shift somewhere else.
According to a sports ministry official, the proposed Centre of Excellence requires a minimum 10 courts.
DLTA has 14 courts, including two clay courts, in its sprawling complex.
(With PTI Inputs)