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Home News and Update Year 2010 Raju's Courtside Cure For Cancer

Raju's Courtside Cure For Cancer

Indian Express
26 October 2010
By Smriti Sinha
New Delhi, India

"I have to take medicines four time a day, visit hospitals for blood tests regularly but tennis disciplines my life and gives me a daily workout"
Srihari Raju plays a volley during his match at the Vasant Vihar club on Tuesday.Srihari Raju plays a volley during his match at the Vasant Vihar club on Tuesday.
WHILE waiting for a return, he holds his tennis racket on court more like a veteran soldier holding a sword to protect his territory standing in attention position with the racket held high. To celebrate a point he stretches his racket for an obligatory touch of the tip of his partner’s racket, not to forget his Ray Ban sunglasses that he sports while playing every match.

Playing in the All India Senior Tennis Association ‘s veterans meet in the capital, C. H. Srihari Raju is a special player, not only is he turning 81 in April but the Hyderabadi is suffering from blood cancer for the past eight years. Between hospital visits, taking care of his wife who is also a blood cancer patient and struggling with a fragile body, Raju not only takes out time to play tennis everyday at the Asif Tennis Club in Hyderabad but also travels six months a year to different cities to play in the AISTA tournaments alone.

"My wife cannot travel with me and the journey to Delhi and Kolkata are 26 hours long but I manage all that. I have to take medicines four time a day, visit hospitals for blood tests regularly but tennis disciplines my life and gives me a daily workout," Raju says.

While many of his fellow veterans in the 65+ category sit, gasp a bit, sip water or eat oranges during game breaks, Raju stands tall and refuses to relax during his doubles match on Tuesday. Despite losing his match in straight sets, he walks off the court smiling.

"I play tennis just to stay fit physically and mentally. I’ve been playing the game for 16 years and thanks to it, I don’t aches or pains as many people have at my age," he says.

There's a story behind his favourite shots being serve and overhead. A ball-badminton player for more than thirty years, Raju says he took to tennis around fifteen years back only after the sport became accessible and affordable for the middle class. His preferred shots remain from those of his ball-badminton days.

While Raju decided to pick up tennis, he remains unaware of working on a computer. "I am only eighth pass," he says. But that does not keep him from following a stringent fitness regime.

"No tea, no coffee all day. Only milk and healthy food. Two hours of tennis and some walking. I make sure I sleep at nine in night. I have to make sure I follow all this to stay healthy," he informs.

After he stopped working for the water works department in 1994, Raju did not have any regular source of income. He manages his expenses with the rent he gets from his ancestral lands in his village, Pallakollu. While in Delhi to play the tournament, he travels in autos and crowded metros to and from the venue and doesn’t have any complaints.

He has only one answer how he not only survives but seemingly thrives. "It’s God’s grace. So far I have had no problems, and I hope to keep playing for as long as I can," he ends.

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