01. Tennis in its present
form was conceived in England in the
1870s. In the 1880s the British Army
and Civilian Officers brought the game
to India. Soon after, regular tournaments
like 'Punjab Lawn tennis Championship'
at Lahore (Now in Pakistan) (1885);
'Bengal Lawn Tennis Championship' at
Calcutta (1887) and the All India Tennis
Championships at Allahabad in (1910)
were organised. Initially the Britishers
like TD Berrington and LC Ogbourne won
these championships, however Slowly
Indians started picking up the game.
Mohd. Saleem of Lahore won the Punjab
Championship in 1915 and thereafter
consecutively from 1919 to 1926. In
1917 NS Iyer lifted the Bengal Championship.
In 1919 Mr. Nagu picked up the prestigious
singles crown at the All India Tennis
Championship at City's Gymkhana Club
at Allahabad. Henceforth the Indians
started playing the game with greater
In March 1920 All India Lawn Tennis
Association (AILTA) was formed at Lahore.
At this meeting the constitution and
by laws were framed on the lines of
the constitution of Lawn Tennis Association
of Britain. In November 1920, the first
AGM of AILTA was held at the Town Hall
at Delhi. Samuel Perry O'Donnell, a
British member of the Indian Civil Service
(ICS) was elected as the first president.
In this meeting it was decided to hold
the annual 'All India National Championships'
at Allahabad and to participate in Davis
Cup competition. In its debut, Indian
team consisting of SM Jacob, Mohd Saleem,
LS Deane and AA Fayzee upset a stronger
French team to reach the semi finals.
With AITA at the helm of affairs, different
Provinces formed Provincial Associations
(now known as State Associations and
were affiliated to parent organisation.
An Inter Provincial Tournament was organised
with effect from 1922. Punjab LTA led
by Mohd. Saleem became the first champions.
This yearly competition continued till
the eve of Second World War (1939).
In Davis Cup ties between 1921 to 1929
India beat among others France, Romania,
Holland, Belgium. Spain and Greece.
Top Indians M. Sleem, Fayzee brothers
AH Fayzee and AA Fayzee, Cotah Ramaswamy
and Krishna Prasad beat a large number
of ranked European players and teams
and brought glory to the country.
In Wimbledon Indian participation dates
back to the years of first Wimbledon,
BK Nehru in 1905, Sardar Nihal Singh
in 1908 were later joined by M. Saleem,
Fayzee brothers and Jagat Mohan Lal
who made it to last 16 stages. AA Fayzee
and M Saleem represented India in the
1924 Paris Olympics; Saleem reached
the semi-finals in singles. India's
repeated success at Davis Cup and some
fine individual performances in Wimbledon
earned the respect of leading tennis
playing nations and put her on the world
map by 1930's. Teams from Italy, France,
Czechoslovakia, England and Yugoslavia
visited India. The most notable amongst
foreign visitors in 1930's was the great
American Bill Tilden - considered by
many as the greatest ever in modern
tennis, and Henry Cochet an all time
great and one of the famous "Four
Musketeers" of France. Ghouse Mohd.
India's undisputed No.1 reached the
quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 1939.
05. After the War AILTA
decided to conduct two tournaments at
all India level, one on Grass termed
as National Championships of India and
the other All India Hard Court Championships.
The National Championships were open
The Inaugural Grass Court National Championship
was held at Calcutta 's South Club 'the
cradle of the game in the country' in
1946. The Big serving Sumant Misra became
the first champion beating Man Mohan
Lal. Till 1955 only three Indians, S.
Misra (1946,1952), Dilip Bose (1948)
and Ramanathan Krishnan 16 yrs old (1953
won the championship. The Foreigners
dominated the scene till 1976. The most
important to bear the mantle were Roy
Emerson (Australia) a Wimbledon and
US Open Champion, and Ile Nastase World
No. one (1973). India's Ramanathan Krishnan
won the title a record number of eight
times (1953-1964). Of the other eminent
Indians Premjit Lal and Vijay Amritraj
were Champions three time each while
Jaidip Mukerjea and Ramesh Krishnan
took the title twice each. India had
the honour of staging the first Asian
International Championship in Calcutta
in 1949-1950. Dilip Bose emerged as
the first Asian Champion. He also has
the distinction to be seeded at Wimbledon
(15) in 1950. In 1954 the Young Ramanathan
Krishnan became the first Junior Wimbledon
Champion, the first Asian. 25 years
later Ramesh Krishnan emulated his father
in 1979. Leander Paes was the third
Indian to grab the junior Wimbledon
title in 1990.
In 1960's Ramanathan Krishnan, Jaidip
Mukerjea and Premjit Lal dominated the
game. In 1962 Ramanathan Krishnan earned
his highest seeding in Wimbledon (4).
In Davis cup, India repeatedly became
the Zonal Champions and played the Inter
- Zonal finals. History was made when
Ramesh Krishnan along with Premjit Lal,
SP Misra and Jaidip and RK Khanna as
the non-playing Captain steered India
to the Cup finals in 1966. They lost
the Cup but not before R Krishnan and
J Mukerjea beating New Combe and Tony
Roche the Wimbledon Champions (1965)
in doubles. Premjit Lal and Jaidip Mukerjea
together held the National doubles and
Asian doubles Championships four times
each. In 1970's Vijay Amritraj came
on the scene. With teammates Shashi
Menon, Jasjit Singh and brother Anand
Amritraj, Vijay took India to World
Cup Finals for the second time in 1974.
India did not play South Africa in the
Finals due to political reasons. Vijay
made to quarterfinals in US Open in
1973 and 1981; and Wimbledon in 1973
and 1974. After Amritraj brothers Ramesh
Krishnan appeared on the scene. He won
junior Wimbledon championship and junior
French title in 1979 and was ranked
number 1 junior in the world. He made
to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon (1986)
as US Open (twice). He was instrumental
in lifting India to the Davis Cup finals
for the third time in 1987 by defeating
a much more experienced Wally Masur
of Australia in straight sets. India
though lost to Sweden in the finals.
He retired in 1993.
Leander Paes picked up the gauntlet
of Indian Tennis by winning the Junior
Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1990
- 1991 respectively. He has turned out
to be an outstanding Davis Cupper. The
Indian Davis Cup Team reached the qualifying
round of the World group for the fourth
consecutive year in 2003. Leander and
Mahesh Bhupathi created history of sorts
by reaching the 'Doubles Finals' of
all the four Grand Slams in the World
and winning the Wimbledon and US Open
Doubles titles in 1999. They were declared
as no. 1 ranked doubles pair in the
world. Till now i.e. June 2003 they
have won for India nine Grand Slam Doubles
and Mixed Doubles Titles. In 2002, U/14
boys and Girls and U/16 Girls teams
reached within the first eight positions
of the World Group. The AITA conceptualized
and conducted ATF Asia Cup from 1997
to 2000. In the Asian Games at Busan
Indian tennis players brought one Gold,
one Silver and two Bronze Medals for
The concept of tennis underwent a change
in 1968 with Wimbledon and other tournaments
going professional with prize money
for the players. AITA organised a few
Grand Prix tournaments in the 1970`s,
but they did not meet with much success
as the prize money was too little due
to lack of funds. Around early 80s the
name of the Association was changed
to 'All India Tennis Association' (AITA).
From the beginning of 1990's tennis
in India has started getting a new look.
The financial position of the Association
has improved considerably. The Association
constructed a full-fledged modern National
Stadium at Delhi with a seating capacity
of 5000 spectators in 1996. The Organisation,
that was functioning from temporary
and roving headquarters at Calcutta,
Delhi and Madras till now was finally
shifted to its permanent location at
the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium in 1996.
While, the far-sighted Mr. RK Khanna
and his team made the Association financially
viable, the dynamic Mr. Anil Khanna
and his colleagues under the President-ship
of H'ble External Affairs Minister Sh.
Yashwant Sinha are doing the necessary
spadework to revamp the entire developmental
processes and managerial skills to bring
proficiency into every sphere of development.
Generally the tennis scene is on the
All India Tennis Association Presidents
and Secretaries(1920 -2016)