T. Ramanathan Kannan - The Indian Who Played Touch Tennis

T. Ramanathan Kannan was born on 11th April 1937 in Chennai. He developed interest in the sport of lawn tennis at the tender age of ten. His father, T.K. Ramanathan, spotted his interest early and decided that he was going to coach his son. Before entering into the national lawn tennis scene, T. Ramanathan Kannan changed his name to Ramanathan Krishnan.

Ramanathan Krishnan won all the national junior titles. At the age of seventeen, he became the first Asian player to win the boy’s singles title at the Junior Wimbledon Championship beating Ashley Cooper in the final. He is the only Indian tennis player to reach the semi finals of Wimbledon Championships in 1960 and 1961. In 1960, Ramanathan Krishnan reached the semi finals of the men’s singles competition at Wimbledon when he lost to Neale Fraser who went on to win the title. Again, the next year, he reached the semi finals at Wimbledon but lost to Rod Laver who won the championship that year. In 1961, Ramanathan Krishnan was ranked third in the world and that is the highest seeding achieved by any tennis player from India.

Ramanathan Krishnan was part of the Davis Cup team that reached the finals in 1966. India lost to Australia that year. He was an important member of the Indian team. In the semi finals against Brazil, he won two singles matches and a double game partnering Jaideep Mukherjea and leading India to a 3-2 win. In the final against Australia, Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaideep Mukherjea won the doubles match against John Newcombe and Tony Roche but Ramanathan Krishnan lost both the singles matches against Fred Stolle and Roy Emerson as India lost 1-4. He was a regular player on the Indian Davis cup team between 1953 and 1975.

Ramanathan Krishnan won the National Championship titles eight times in his career. He also won the Asian Championship. He received the Arjuna Award in 1961, the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Padma Bhushan in 1967. In December 2007, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asian Sports Press Union.

Ramanathan Krishnan is regarded as the greatest lawn tennis player India and Asia ever produced. He had a 69-28 winning record when he retired. His record of wins was 50-19 in the singles and 19-9 in the doubles.

Ramanathan Krishnan now lives in Chennai where he runs a gas distribution agency. His son, Ramesh Krishnan, followed in his footsteps and achieved the same success when he won the Wimbledon Junior Championships singles title in 1979 and went on to become a leading Indian lawn tennis player in the nineteen eighties.

Ramanathan Krishnan’s style of tennis came to be known as `touch tennis’. His style of playing was described by many sports journalists as pure Oriental charm and eastern magic. At Wimbledon, reporters exclaimed that each and every rally of Ramanathan Krishnan was a thing of rare beauty. His service was not a weapon of power nor did he have any powerful ground strokes. He won his game with angled volleys; consistency and a half volley drop shot. He has written a book titled `A touch of tennis: the story of a tennis family’.

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Tahseen Nakavi Juror

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Keywords :
Ramanathan Krishnan , Sports , Lawn Tennis


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