It was undoubtedly a very sporty Sunday yesterday. Fans went crazy as the big finals of Copa América, Wimbledon and UEFA European Football Championship (12:30 am IST on Monday) were lined up. Sports lovers, across the globe, went into a frenzy, taking sides and cheering for their favourite sportspersons, in their respective sports. However, in Assam, people were celebrating the heroics of 17-year-old Samir Banerjee, with some extra energy. So, what made the teenager, who had won the Wimbledon boys’ singles on Sunday, so special?
Samir’s grandfather, Late Hironmoy Banerjee, worked with the Oil India Limited (OIL) and lived in Assam. Samir’s father, Kunal Banerjee, grew up in Assam and later migrated to the United States of America. Samir was born there and is an American citizen.
In many media interviews, Kunal Banerjee has credited the sports environment at home to his growing up days in Upper Assam, which, he acknowledged, had a culture of playing tennis and golf. Before Samir, the other tennis star to have some connection with Assam was former Indian player Somdev Devvarman, who was born in Assam.
Earlier on Sunday, Samir displayed some exciting brand of tennis on his way to defeat Victor Lilov 7-5, 6-3 in the finals of the Wimbledon boys’ singles, which went on for one hour and 22 minutes. He has had a wonderful start to his career, having reached 10 finals in 16 events so far, in the ITF junior circuit.
Samir had earlier also competed in the French Open but was not too successful as he had lost his first-round match there. Leander Paes (Wimbledon 1990), Ramesh Krishnan (Wimbledon 1979) and Ramanathan Krishnan (Wimbledon 1954) are the Indians who have won the Wimbledon boys’ singles in the past.
Social media is abuzz with varied views regarding Samir’s Assam connection. While many are celebrating, there are also quite a few who have dismissed his achievements and feel it is not worthy enough to make headlines.
There is no doubt that it is a distant connection and taking credit for Samir’s success, in any form would not be the right thing to do. However, it is a very human tendency and always gives a good feeling to see somebody, with even a thin connection do well on the world stage. We hope Samir plays good tennis on the senior stage as well and continue to inspire people.
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