IPTL diary of a tennis fan- dreams do come true

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“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”
― John Lennon

As an Indian tennis fan growing up in early 2000’s I dreamt about seeing my favourite tennis players live in action, to know how they trained, how they practice, the way they talk. I only knew what I saw on the TV. and was very curious about the things that happen away from the camera.
Over the years I have developed friends in tennis fraternity and have been to a tournament prior to this but nothing compares to magnitude of star power #CocaColaIPTL brings into play.
The opportunity can come in the most unimaginable way you can think sometimes and that’s what happened. I had tried to get associated with IPTL but had no luck and when I had given up on my plans to meet my hero Rafael Nadal,
I received a Facebook message request from someone. The person won’t reveal many details but they wanted to give a good opportunity to some tennis fans from Delhi and that they got my reference from a group admin in one of the facebook tennis group. As Francis Bacon has said “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” I said I am ready to travel to Delhi if given the opportunity. (P.S> the call came 1 day before the Delhi leg) and that’s how they finally revealed the details. The person was representing Coca-Cola the title sponsors of IPTL and they were giving the opportunity to toss the coin before the match.
I had to be at the center of Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in front of a huge crowd and millions watching on the TV sets. It took a while to realize the magnitude of the opportunity I was just given by a stranger with help of a Facebook friend I never met. My “faith in humanity restored” moment.
So I went to Delhi a day before I was supposed to report to see the action more closely. I witnessed the practice sessions of the IPTL stars at R.K. Khanna stadium, the thing I always wanted to witness. The players were also kind enough to stp for the autographs and photographs after toiling hard under the sun for hours. Watching those practices gave a closer look to the other sides of tennis players. We ganged up and cheered a particular player when they played practice set, made them turn around and say hi. Gave the final verdict inclase of a close line call during the practice and they took our word. Basically what the tennis fans were trying was to get more involved in the process then they would generally be. Got a ticket to evening’s matches too from a friend and thus got the opportunity to see IPTL live.

Some pics from my IPTL trip:

The next day I had to do coin toss for the first match and I was planning how to utilize my one minute of fame all night and the next morning. I finally entered the stadium and the court at the IGI stadium. The walk from the greenroom to the court gave me goose bumps. The players entered one by one and it was my turn to do what I have came from half a country across. My parents and friends those who were not even tennis fans were glued to the TV sets. I was on Star Sports for about a minute and if you thought that was my greatest accomplishment during the trip. I was taken to the corporate box seats just behind the players’ bench by the Cocal-Cola staff. I witness some of the most spectacular points from close quarters. Last of which was the biggest rivalry in the tennis history. Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer. The 3 days extravaganza ended with my favourite tennis player of all time, idol and source of inspiration Rafa winning a close match from his biggest rival and arguably the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T as they say) Roger Federer.
In last 2 days I had met the who’s who of the tennis world like Nadal , Moya, Toni, Cilic, Kiki, Goran, Nestor, Safin, Paes, Dodig, Somdev, Rohan, Bhupathi, Philippoussis, Dodig, Pilskova, Kohlschreiber. It is not often that I visit Delhi, I made the most of it by meeting all my online friends visited few landmarks and tried the Dilli’s street food. Like all good things it has to end as I left Delhi but not without checking so many things off my bucket list.

– Dhaval Rajyaguru


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