The RK Khanna Tennis Complex has a couple of firsts attached to it. It will be the first venue in the history of the Commonwealth Games to host tennis matches since the sport is being included for the first time in the 2010 Games.
It is also the first venue that was completed and handed over to the organizing committee of the Games. Unlike other stadia, upgradation of which is being undertaken by government agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority, Central Public Works Department and New Delhi Municipal Council, the tennis venue was completed by the All India Tennis Association (AITA). The entire funding for the stadium’s renovation and refurbishment was provided by the ministry of sports. Though tennis has been played at the venue since the 1970s, the stadium complex was built only in 1996, when AITA permanently shifted its offices there.
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Since the only ATP event in India is played in Chennai, the RK Khanna Tennis complex is not used to hosting international tennis stars. But with a new centre court that can seat a little more than 5,000 people that might change. The complex also features six match courts and six practise courts. As part of the Green Games Project, Reliance Industries Ltd has also installed three 2.6 kilowatt-peak units photovoltaics power plants on the roofs of the individual tennis courts.
Bijri Khan’s tomb, a Lodhi era structure that used to stand neglected next to the tennis complex, also got a facelift courtesy the Games. But controversy is never too far behind—AITA secretary general Anil Khanna quit his post as treasurer of the Commonwealth Games after news leaked that Ace Rebound, a company Khanna’s son represents in India, had been contracted to lay the synthetic playing surfaces in the stadium.
Text by Rudraneil Sengupta. Graphic by Uttam Sharma/Mint