Apollo Invests to Ace the Tennis World
During a press conference on May 23 Apollo Tyres Ltd unveiled its long-term plans for increasing the profile of tennis as a sport and developing young Indian champions for the global arena. The Haryana based tyre major made a commitment to invest Rs 100 crore (US$24.64 million/£12.45 million) towards the development of Indian tennis over a ten-year period, one of the largest sports initiatives made by any Indian company. One of the stated aims of the project is to see an Indian player taking out the Grand Slam championship by 2018.
“Over the decades, tennis has always thrown up some great Indian talent, who on individual merit and hard work, have made India proud. However to succeed today, we need a lot more than talent. I believe, with world-class training, facilities and mentoring of young players, we could see an Indian winning a Grand Slam title in the near future. We will work towards making the sport more popular with today’s youngsters and realising this goal by the year 2018,” said Neeraj R S Kanwar, Apollo Tyres’ joint managing director & COO.
The Apollo Tennis Initiative is embracing the motto “Play to be Unstoppable” as its official tagline and will operate on two levels. Firstly, it has the aim of popularising the sport to attract youngsters to the game and, second, to identify young talent nationally and sponsor their training, skill development and global exposure. Apollo will be guided in its efforts by the expertise of Indian tennis icon Mahesh Bhupathi, who will in turn involve other tennis legends to bolster the programme.
Mahesh Bhupathi currently holds the 25th rank in the doubles category with his partner Radek Stepanek. In 1999, he was the world’s No 1 doubles player. Addressing the press conference, Mahesh Bhupathi said: “Apollo’s initiative could change the face of Indian tennis and I am proud to be part of this endeavour to create an Indian Grand Slam title winner. Both Neeraj and I, realise this is a very audacious goal we have set ourselves. But we are willing to put our combined force behind this to bring home national pride.” Also present at the press conference were tennis legends and former Indian Davis Cuppers Akhtar Ali and Jaideep Mukherjee.
Apollo Tyres began its tennis association last year, backing 13-year-old prodigy Yuki Bhambri, who is the current Indian No 1 Under-16 player and ranks 143 in the ITF World Under-18 rankings. Earlier this year Mahesh Bhupathi and Radek Stepanek became Apollo’s brand ambassadors for the sport.