Played way back in 1955 on wooden Tennis court
Baroda now Vadodara is known as ‘Cultural city’ of Gujarat but very few people know that the city has its share to produce great sportspersons who became legends of the game. Not only great cricketers but players from other games took the name of the city to such height that every sports lover can be proud of.
Cricket is considered to be the heart and soul of India but one can’t deny the contribution of other sportsmen who give their sweat and blood for the game. Former cricket captain of India D. K. Gaekwad, legendary cricketers Vijay Hazare, Chandu Borde, Mamasaheb Ghorpade, Anshuman Gaekwad all are Barodians. Indian games like Khokho has given Arjun Awardee Sudhir Parab. Does anyone know that Table Tennis is also a famous game in here with first ever national tournament was played in Baroda back in 1955?
One of the players who was a teenager at that time shares the interesting story which headlines the contribution of Baroda towards sports. “Then Maharaja Shrimant Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad was the patron of Maha Gujarat Table Tennis Association conducted the National Tournament in Baroda. The tournament was such grand that all the states of India participated in it. I was fortunate to represent Gujarat in Juniors category and saw the legends of the game as international champions were invited for the exhibition match. Five times world champion Victor Barna and Johny Leach were invited by Shrimant in Vadodara,” said Dhiru Mistry a well known name in Vadoadra circuit.
He added a souvenir was also published during the tournament with messages by Morarji Desai (C.M. of Bombay state), Shrimant Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad, Almoula, collector of Baroda, Vijay Merchant, Bajpai then Governor of Bombay state. The souvenir also carries the photographs of international players came for the exhibition match. Local team of Baroda where one can spot Ramesh Dalvi, H. K. Kale, Jhirad, P. R. Thorat, Roshan Mongralia, Kalika Jaywant, Lalita Gaekwad and Dhiru Mistry.
The most important thing that he remembers is the court on which the tournament held in Vadodara. “The venue of the TT tournament is special as the matches were played on covered wooden Tennis Court inside Motibaug. There was only one and only tennis wooden court in India happens to be in Vadodara which is still there as testimony,” said Mistry.
To appreciate Victor Barna’s contribution in TT a company manufactured rackets and gave name as Barna racket(with grains).