Mumbai, In order to support players in their professional career, the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association has, for the first time, set aside a corpus of Rs one crore.
This was a significant part of the MSLTA's Vision 2020 programme that was unveiled at a media conference here today by president Bharat Oza and secretary Sunder Iyer.
"We had been supporting players until the age of 18 or so earlier. We have realised that once they reach the next level they lack support," Iyer told reporters here.
"We have now set aside a corpus of Rs one crore with which we will support 2 or 3 seniors based on their performance. Once they start earning from the game more than they are spending, they would have to repay us from the prize money they get," he explained.
He gave the example of Prarthana Thombare, who has qualified to play in the women's doubles competition partnering Sania Mirza at next month's Rio Olympic Games.
"We had supported Prarthana on her journey from her home town Barshi (70 kms away from Solapur) to Rio and have spent Rs 18-20 lakh so far on her," Iyer informed.
The top 8 men and 6 women, based on ATP and AITA rankings, will also form part of the Elite Group who would get daily allowance for attending camps and tournaments that would, in turn, help them tide over their expenses on the professional tennis tour.
The Vision 2020 programme is to encompass 111 players from different age groups till the seniors level.
According to Oza, the association is budgeted to spend Rs 70-80 lakh on the development of players annually.
"Our annual expenditure runs between Rs 70 and 80 lakh and this does not include holding of tournaments which are mostly self sufficient," he said.
Currently its vision programme has six players who are in the top six rankings in India in U-16 and 18 age groups, along with men and women, and national champions in these two age groups.
"Thanks to our earlier Vision programme tennis activities have spread to 30 districts in the state," Iyer said.