Bangalore, Aug 13 IANS | 12 months ago

Former sprint champion Ashwini Nachappa did the honours in releasing the autobiography of ex-India tennis player Nirupama Sanjeev (nee Vaidyanathan), titled "Moonballer" at a function here Tuesday.


Nirupama said: "In the book launch elsewhere, I had distinguished sportspersons releasing my book, but all were men and I am glad that in Bangalore, it is Ashwini."

Nirupama, who became National champion at 14 and was the first Indian woman to win a first round tie in a Grand Slam event (Australian Open in 1998), said the book chronicled her struggles, hardships and her quest for excellence in the game.

"I wrote it as a motivational book for all those who face similar situations, though things have changed a lot in Indian tennis," said the US-based Nirupama.

Turning nostalgic, she said: "It was not an easy journey for me and I took up the game because I wanted to prove my family that I too can be a player, than being a mere ball girl for my brother.

"My coach was my father who was a self-taught player and coach. I made my decision to turn professional and to stay and play in Europe when I was 17. It was not an easy choice either, with no sponsor, and I had to do everything on my own.

"I remember the time when I had to opt out of doubles tie of an ITF tournament in Barcelona because I could not afford to say in a Hotel. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying career and I chose to write after I came out of retirement after a10-year break," said Nirupama.

Married to Sanjeev, a software pro in the US where she has her 'Niru Tennis Academy', Nirupama urged the youngsters not give up on their dreams.

Ashwini, who is also writing her book, echoed Nirupama's sentiments and said: "Both of us achieved what we could due to parental support.

"Sport is a great leveller in life. It teaches one to handle emotions, success and defeats and many a life lessons could be learnt in a sports arena."

(Posted on 13-08-2013)