Asheville. Montpellier. Dallas. Cordoba. These were but four of the many cities Prakash Amritraj had his eye on last weekend in Los Angeles, with tournament titles and Fed Cup ties being decided on a busy yet standard Sunday in the world of professional tennis.
As Tennis Channel’s Center Court showed matches from each event, its coverage shifting when stakes and drama dictated, Amritraj, in studio, was a calming and enlightening constant. He imparted his knowledge of the sport on the broadcast as deftly as a modern-day baseliner imparts spin on the ball. He understood the pressure each Fed Cup participant was experiencing of playing for one’s country. And he certainly knew his way around the world.
Amritraj, after all, is a former ATP player. He’s played in 10 Davis Cup ties for India, which took him from Bucharest to Zwolle (it’s in The Netherlands). He’s also the son of tennis legend and former United Nations Messenger of Peace Vijay Amritraj.
When he’s not talking tennis, Prakash is an actor and film producer. The 35-year-old knows what it’s like to move from place to place in a short amount of time.
“I’ve always felt being fortunate enough to travel the world as a kid—especially being around the tennis world—was easily my greatest education in life,” says Amritraj. “Being exposed to so many different cultures, walks of life, languages, traditions and different types of people always taught me a great understanding for the rest of the world, and helped me develop a love for all people. That continued significantly through my time on tour.”
Which is why Amritraj’s next role might suit him best of all. As Tennis Channel’s new Global Correspondent, Amritraj will spend time in 13 cities this tennis season to cover the international game, far from the centralized confines of a Santa Monica television studio.
Ambitious and daunting for some, the travel schedule is ideal for Amritraj, who never likes to sit still for too long.
“After my tennis career I have been in Los Angeles more than I have since I lived here for college, when I attended USC,” says the former top-ranked junior player. “This year I will be completely on the move, not really coming back to L.A. for more than two, sometimes a maximum of three weeks at a time.”
Amritraj’s itinerary could nestle inside a New York Times “52 Places to Go” feature—and is a bucket list for any ardent tennis fan. It begins next week in Dubai, where Amritraj will spend six days for player interviews, match analysis and on-the-ground reaction. He’ll then jet to Acapulco for another six days of tournament coverage, before catching a short flight to Miami for a 10-day stay at the transformed Miami Open.
Then it’s Amritraj’s road to Roland Garros, via the sky: Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, one week at each. The former Indian No. 1 never played matches at these Masters events, making these historic venues some of the most anticipated stops on his journey.
Amritaj, mid-flight, at a Davis Cup tie in New Delhi.
The former Newport finalist will then be re-engaged with grass-court tennis at London’s venerable Queen’s Club, and in Eastbourne.
“I loved playing Queen’s prior to Wimbledon and spending time during the summer in London,” Amritraj recalls, “so returning to London during those weeks will also certainly put a smile on my face.”
Then it’s off to Toronto for seven days, Cincinnati for seven days, Beijing for seven days, the WTA Finals in Shenzhen for eight days, Paris for seven days and, last but not least, the ATP Finals in London for eight days.
In all, it’s one hundred days of correspondence in a suit, and thousands of miles in transit with a suitcase. But even after countless hours spent on planes, trains and automobiles, Amritraj retains an infinite, undying appreciation for the itinerant life, and what it can provide.
“I feel so fortunate to still have such a beautiful relationship with the game that gave me so much,” says Amritraj. “I am really looking forward to all of this time on the tour, giving back to tennis by helping be a part of Tennis Channel, and bringing our sport to the world in a very big way.”
ATP Rotterdam (Mon - Sun 2/11 - 2/17)
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USTA College Match Day 3 Lake Nona - (Sat - 2/16)
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