Despite the many years I’ve followed football, tennis and since 2000 ice hockey, I’ve never been able to attend a sporting event live at the venue with one exception when I was 14. I’ve attended the finals of a tennis tournament in Cochin, which mainly featured Indian players, way back in 1991. Nothing like the Chennai Open; much much smaller in nature.
So no international football matches (ha, I live in India) and NHL is out of the question. There are clay courts in the grounds of the Cochin Oil Refinery setup in Ambalamedu which is a bit far from where I live. I remember that in 1991 there was this tournament held on the clay courts and most of the top Indian talent were attending it. I spoke to an uncle and my cousin Raju and we though that it was something that we wanted to attend. So one Sunday in January 1991, the three of us took a drive from my grandma’s house to the courts in Ambalamedu to attend the men’s single final & the double’s final.
I remember that a young Leander Paes was facing an Italian expatriate player who lived & played in India for many years (I just can’t remember the guys’ name) and lost. They then played as a team in the doubles final and due to fatigue or illness, Leander and his partner had to forfeit the final. I managed to get an autograph from Leander and the Italian dude; it must be around here somewhere amongst my stuff from my childhood. That was a good experience for the 3 of us and we drove back home happily.