Vijay Amritraj thread

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby jai_in_canada » Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:40 pm

jaydeep wrote:
He was a part of the ABC of tennis..

Yeah, but B (Bjorn Borg) and C (Jimmy Connors) won multiple Grand Slams; A hasn't won any. Vijay has beaten Borg, Connors and McEnroe many times. He was as good, or even better than Borg and Connors.

I think the reason he didn't win a Grand Slam was that he was unable to put it together over a period of one week. Even as a team, we won 28 ATP titles, reached the final of the Grand Slam, but for some reason was not able to win it. There were some great doubles teams in our era and we were in the top-5 for almost 15 years.



That's a contrdictory and biased statement that shows astounding disrespect to Borg and Connors.  I don't think there is another human on the planet that would buy that.  The fact that VA could not put it together for a fortnight means his game was not strong enough.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby arjun2761 » Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:38 pm

Absolutely.  On a career basis, Borg and Connors are on a different planet.  However, when they started out, Vijay displayed as much talent as the others and they were referred to (not sure by whom) as the ABC of tennis.

For those who note talent  (see discussion of Sunil Kumar), it is instructive to see that talent alone does not determine how far you go (rather it is a necessary but not sufficient factor)...

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby jai_in_canada » Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:13 pm

arjun2761 wrote:Absolutely.  On a career basis, Borg and Connors are on a different planet.  However, when they started out, Vijay displayed as much talent as the others and they were referred to (not sure by whom) as the ABC of tennis.

For those who note talent  (see discussion of Sunil Kumar), it is instructive to see that talent alone does not determine how far you go (rather it is a necessary but not sufficient factor)...


I believe that it was Bud Collins, in his inimitable colorful style, that coined the term "ABC of Tennis" in 1973 to refer to Amritraj-Borg-Connors. 

And yes "talent," what ever that means, is itself not enough to be great.  When it came to downright toughness, heart, competitiveness, solidity of game, doggedness, aggression; Vijay just wasn't up there with Borg and Connors.  Vijay had the basic elements of serve, volley, ground strokes, and movement. But that is not enough to be great. 

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby BSharma » Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:43 pm

With all due respect to Indian tennis fans and Vijay Amritraj fans, we are the only ones in the world who are hanging on to "ABC of Tennis" (Amritraj, Borg and Connors).  Does anyone else use this term?  None of the great tennis writers and experts put Vijay at the same level as Borg and Connors as far as accomplishment on the tennis court is concerned; however, Vijay has achieved a lot of success in tennis - both within the court and outside as ambassador of tennis.

I would use the term "ABC of tennis" if people world-wide felt that Vijay's accomplishments were as great as Borg and Connors on the tennis court. 

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby arjun2761 » Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:51 pm

I don't think anyone is hanging on to the term -- it was only relevant when they started out.

The modern day version of that discussion would be the tortured discussion on Sania's potential.  As of now she has the potential of a top 10 or even top 5 player -- but time will tell where she reaches....

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby BSharma » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:28 am

arjun2761 wrote:I don't think anyone is hanging on to the term -- it was only relevant when they started out.


I agree that the term "ABC of tennis" was relevant only when the three players started their pro careers.  Why I don't like to use that term is that it just shows that one of the three talented players did not rise as high as the other two as far as rankings, titles, Grand Slams, etc were concerned and it is not a term that now reflects well about Vijay.

When I wrote that only "we" i.e., people of Indian origin use that term is because here is an Indian tennis correspondent (Deepti Patwardhan) and the second question she asked in the interview was about "ABC of tennis".  Indian people of my generation occasionally still talk about this term in casual talks yet few non-Indians (except Vijay fans) know about it.

I have great respect for Vijay.
'Vijay was a better player than Borg, Connors'
Last edited by BSharma on Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby PKBasu » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:39 pm

We just have to take this as the avuncular (or fraternal) comments of an elder brother. Anand cannot credibly assert that Vijay was a better player than Connors and Borg. He had a fine record against Connors (as I have pointed out at length earlier in this thread) but Connors always had the better of their exchanges in Slams, and that ultimately is what determines greatness.
I agree that constantly referring to the "ABC of Tennis" term is now rather silly. It was used during Vijay's career (by Indian writers) to admonish Vijay for failing to live up to his potential. I wish we would forget that term now! Vijay has achieved much in tennis on and off the court. And I have really enjoyed the wonderful interactions between Connors and Vijay in the commentary box at Wimbledon in the last few years (when Vijay invites Jimmy in); their banter over past encounters is wonderful, and Vijay's smiling humility is what always stands out.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby punarayan » Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:41 am

Vijay did not reach the same level of achievment, but if one travelled back to '73-'75 or so, Vijay was seen as a possibly the "next great one" with his classic strokes and smooth effortless volleys and serves.  After all he beat Rod laver early in his career and even beat Borg at the USO. Ofcourse the next ten years did not see the realization of the initial impressions.  This  is not to take anything away from Vijay, but Borg and Connors were far greater athletes, especially Borg who was the fastest man I have ever seen on a tennis court and he had decent height!  To see Borg live was to realize the foundation of his game - speed and this inspired the fighting qualities.  But, for a purist ike myself, I would rather watch Vijay on a tennis court than Borg or Connors.  If you wanted drama, than Connors was your man. Also, the two handed backhand was not yet in vogue, and Vijay provided the familiar talented strokes.  Vijay was "old school", while Borg and Connors represented the "changing of the guard".  I never went to any of these matches thinking Vijay was an underdog and refreshingly neither did Vijay.  Maybe given the right context, one can see where Anand can fondly remember Vijay as the fresh and superior talent in the early seventies.  I enjoyed them immensely.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby Rajiv » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:49 am

another facet of vijay's personality , interesting site and in the "press" section and later the "video's" click on "rolex presents" and has very interesting and nostalgic clips about vijay's past heroics

http://www.vijayamritrajfoundation.org/

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby PKBasu » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:40 pm

I will have the pleasure of meeting Vijay Amritraj tomorrow, if everything goes according to schedule. He has agreed to speak at an event organised by a group I head here in Singapore called the India Club. Really quite excited about the occasion, and to giving him the sort of florid introduction I love...everything I've written in this thread needs to be summarized into a three-minute speech!
Still wondering what topic I should ask him to address, but I will report back here on all the interesting things he will no doubt say.
Last edited by PKBasu on Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby puneets » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:25 pm

Wow PKB. I'd love to 'hear' the introduction speech. Do post if here.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby punarayan » Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:55 am

PKBasu,  Congratulations on having the honour of introducing Vijay!  I would love to know where one can find the athletic kids in India to mold into future tennis player.  Tennis playing kids are not neccessarily athletic, but taking gifted athletic kids and exposing them to tennis, might be a way to the future.  Does one find them on a soccer field, a hockey field, and probably not on a cricket field!  I think with the present day power tennis, it has to be athlete first and tennis talent second.  What should the balance of athletic talent and tennis talent be to spot a future prospect?  I am inclind to search on a soccer field.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby BSharma » Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:14 am

punarayan wrote:...  I would love to know where one can find the athletic kids in India to mold into future tennis player.  Tennis playing kids are not neccessarily athletic, but taking gifted athletic kids and exposing them to tennis, might be a way to the future.  Does one find them on a soccer field, a hockey field, and probably not on a cricket field! 


There is some similarity between golf and tennis in India and both sports require a large amount of money to become good.  Equipment is expensive, court fee and golf course fee are not cheap, good coaches cost money, and traveling to play in tournaments as a junior is beyond the means of common public in India.  Golf is more expensive in India since there are perhaps no public golf courses (unlike USA). 

Daniel Chopra made an important observation about golf in India.  He grew up in Delhi and learned golf at Delhi Golf Club and became the world junior golf champion at 18 years of age (a good sports trivia question since India has not produced too many world junior champions in many sports).  Daniel said that golf is played mainly by rich children in India and they are usually not hungry for success.  India has produced good golfers - Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa, Shiv Kapur to name a few - but they were not produced by the "system" in the same way the Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, etc were not product of the system. 

punarayan is correct that India must look for the athletic types and then train them to become tennis players.  Sunil Kumar is a product of this system.  He was picked up through rural sports talent identification program and nobody in his family had played tennis until he joined a sports school to learn tennis. 

Talent, athleticism, hunger for success and a host of other factors should be the guiding principles in choosing the young ones to turn them into future champions.

Hunger for success is not limited to people from humble backgrounds.

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby punarayan » Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:44 am

Doc, If you don't mind me call you "DOC" - seems like I think of all the posters here as friends - I do agree that there are various factors involved, but speed is now essential and Somdev is exciting for the future.  Tennis is being a prohobitively expensive sport in India, will probably find kids with parents with deep pockets and a dream in their own mind.  How does one weed out the delutional parent with deep pockets and concentrate on kids with athleticism and hunger and desire.  The present system is well conditioned to attract parents with means and the academies survive on them.  As long as cricket is the country's fascination, there is no chance for athletic kids to shine as in soccer, track or even field hockey.  I want to see India turn to clay courts and soccer.  I want to see scramblers and retrievers. One dimensional strickers of the ball isn't going to do it.  Sorry for venting!

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Re: Vijay Amritraj thread

Postby PKBasu » Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:59 pm

What a wonderfully engaging, inspirational speaker Vijay turned out to be. He needed no real topic, just told the story of his life and work in the sort of charismatic way you only expect from a person like Barack Obama. (He did kinda love my introduction which -- like his hour long talk -- was extempore; he said I remembered his record better than him, but then he went onto speak with consummate ease and detail about several of his key matches).
He talked about how he was a sickly child (suffering lung deficiencies that required him to be on I.V drips for six months at one time) and he started playing tennis as a way to get the physical exercise that doctors said was essential for him to survive. That formative experience, and the many astonishing physical struggles of his indomitable mother (who overcame adversity after adversity) taught him that you simply had to make every day count, and seek to achieve excellence in everything. He talked about some of his great matches (against Borg, Connors, McEnroe), about giving back to society through his Foundation, on the pride he felt about boycotting South Africa on account of apartheid in 1974, and also (at my prompting) his indirect role in opening relations with Israel when we played there in 1987 (and Vijay beat Amos Mansdorf in a 4-0 rout). I wish I had taken notes, because the fluidity and poise is impossible to recapture in words.

Afterwards we chatted about the importance of parents' role: he said they are important, but the key to their success is knowing where to draw the line in pushing their kids -- and also understanding their own limitations (for instance he lauded Imran Mirza for letting tennis coaches/pros deal with much of the tennis instruction while he focused on the management/business aspects). He said one of the mistakes he made while running the ATP was to allow racquet sizes to keep getting bigger; as a result the balls and courts have increasingly gotten heavier/slower to compensate, and this has changed the game beyond recognition (the balls evidently are six times heavier now than they were in his day, and they are taken out of cans a day or two before the match in order to make them less bouncy...). That helps explain the physicality of the current European-dominated generation.
Among other things, he pointed out that Federer's initial two-step foot movement (immediately after the opponent has hit the ball) positions him perfectly to be at the ball with poise and timing. He also talked about how Sampras "wanted to be #1 in the world, but not famous" -- but said that was simply impossible.
To a question re what made him feel proudest in his career, he said it was seeing his son Prakash play and win Davis Cup ties for India.
The hour passed too quickly, and the chat continued into lunch afterwards. I left in total awe of one of the most inspirational figures of our time, whose quicksilver tongue and charismatic personality would undoubtedly have made him a success in any walk of life.
Last edited by PKBasu on Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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