At the age of 67, when others take a stroll down the lawn to burn some calories, retired Army man Colonel Mridul Barkakoty criss-crosses the tennis courts as a professional. His efforts paid off, in what he could not achieve as a young man, as he won the singles crown in men’s above-60 years category in the ITF Seniors Tennis Tournament at Phuket, Thailand last week.
Barkakoty became the first from Assam to win the ITF Seniors tournament. He has also won the runners up trophy with his German partner at the tournament.
“It is great to achieve that. I am thankful to all the people for their immense love and support. More importantly, I feel good because I think it will inspire the youngsters as well,” an excited Barkakoty told The News Mill.
In the final, he defeated his opponent Jonathan Rodriguez from US in straight sets 6-0, 6-2. In the above-55 years men’s doubles, Barkakoty partnering with Hebert Jacobs of Germany became the runners-up.
Though football was his first love and also played on number of occasions representing the Services team in the 1980s and 1990s, Barkakoty shifted to tennis full time later.
An alumni of Sainik School, Goalpara and National Defence Academy, Barkakoty has always been a fitness enthusiast and sports lover which always motivates him to maintain a well disciplined life and continue playing. Every morning, he goes for cycling at least 20 kilometres before engaging in free-hand exercise. And later in the evening, he is regular to hit the tennis court at Chachal Tennis Complex.
“That is how I try to keep myself fit and active. I have always been very serious in maintaining a good physic,” Barkakoty added.
After his retirement in 2008, he has been into tennis fulltime.
“When I was in service, we did not get much time as most of the times we need to be busy in our field work. Then after retirement I decided to take the game seriously. I registered myself at the ITF and participated in several tournaments. I think I have also improved my game,” he added.
Barkakoty, who has been posted across the country during his service, wants to continue and achieve new heights in tennis. In the court of All Assam Tennis Association (AATA) every evening, Barkakoty, prefers to play against the younger players. He is also looking forward to the tournaments to be held in Russia in July, China in August and Turkey in October among others.
“I always enjoy playing with the younger players. It is challenging and apparently it helps me improve my game. There is no end to learning,” he said.
Barkakoty also thanked AATA general secretary Ankush Dutta for the support from the state body.