A Chance Discovery and Birth of a Sporting Genius – Madhusudan H.
Blog post by Soumya R. Thomas*: Based on conversation between Madhusudan & Debraj on A Day on Ginny’s Planet (17 Jan 2021)
Tennis has fascinated people since long and continues to do so even today, with millions of fans following the sport throughout the year. Believed to be an adaptation of a 12th–13th-century French handball game called ‘jeu de paume’ (game of the palm), Tennis today is played worldwide and on all kinds of surfaces. However, it was only in the 1870s that the modern tennis we know of today was born. Thanks to his seminal work A Portable Court of Playing Tennis, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield first designed and codified the sport in 1874. This paved the way for the first ever Wimbledon (annual tennis championship and one of the most important tournaments in a year) event, which was organized in 18771.
Tennis covers all aspects of fitness and requires its players to have an ultimate combination of power, agility, speed, flexibility, reaction time, balance, coordination, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular endurance. Wheelchair Tennis is no different, with the exception of only two things: the Two Bounce Rule (the ball can bounce twice before a wheelchair player returns it) and a classification system determined by sporting ability rather than the player’s degree of impairment2.
In comparison to Tennis, Wheelchair Tennis developed much later in 1976 and thereafter, the International Wheelchair Tennis Foundation (IWTF) was founded in 19803&4. It was only in 2002 that Wheelchair Tennis was first featured in a Grand Slam at the Australian Open, where men’s and women’s singles categories were introduced5. Since then, the inclusion of the sport has progressed gradually, and now all four Grand Slam tournaments feature all categories for both men and women wheelchair tennis players. Today, it is one among the most popular of wheelchair sports. But this is at the global stage. In our home country we still have a long way to go in promoting other sports and an even longer road to take when it comes to adaptive sports.
Madhusudan H., a 25-year-old, international Wheelchair Tennis player from Bengaluru discussed about this, the two-bounce rule and much more during his interview with Debraj Chaudhury for the second edition of A Day on Ginny’s Planet. As someone who had no particular inclination towards sports, it was in 2011, when Madhusudan attended a wheelchair tournament in Bengaluru (self-admittedly not by his own will!) that he was introduced to Wheelchair Tennis. His curiosity and interest led him to discover that he had a knack for Tennis and eventually fell in love with the sport. He was only 17 at the time.
Convincing his mother, Madhusudan went on to pursue the sport professionally and till date has participated in seven International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments across five countries and some local tournaments as well. The last tournament that he played was a State-Level tournament in Karnataka in March 2020 where he won both the Singles and Doubles titles.
Madhusudan is a Commerce graduate from Bengaluru University and also works as a full-time professional for ANZ Bank. His list of outstanding achievements includes (but is not limited to): Runners Up in the Doubles B category & Semi-Finalist in the Singles category in his first ITF tournament in Thailand in 2014.
For anyone interested in topics of inclusion, diversity, disability, sports, and/or the intersection of all four (like me!) this highly thought-provoking conversation can provide great insights and deepen one’s understanding about Wheelchair Tennis as a sport. You can watch the complete interview here:
*Soumya Rachel Thomas, Development Communications Intern, Ginny’s Planet