What he cherished as a player, Shiva Kumar will be achieving by officiating as line umpire in the championships this month-end
It will be a maiden Grand Slam appearance with a difference! For the 35-year-old Jakkireddy Shiva Kumar Reddy, it is “going to be an unforgettable experience to officiate as line umpire in the Wimbledon championships this month-end.”
“It is so exciting to even think of it and I am sure will cherish it for my lifetime. And, this is a dream which as a player I could not achieve for different reasons, but now as an official I will be there,” says a visibly elated Shiva Kumar.
Shiva Kumar gave up as a tennis player despite early promise to take care of his parents (his father Venkat Reddy retired as a PET in Sheikhpet Government High School) and took to officiating thanks to the constant support of his mentor and renowned city-based coach C.V. Nagaraj of School of Power Tennis (RRC) and now is a regular on the ATP and the WTA Tour events across the world.
Some of his major assignments included officiating matches featuring legends like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams either as a line or chair umpire.
“Honestly, I never expected to officiate in Wimbledon when I choose this line. But thanks to the support of the State Tennis Association and the AITA and all well-wishers and fellow players, I am going to realise my biggest dream,” says Shiva Kumar in an exclusive chat with The Hindu.
“It all began in 1999 when I started officiating during weekends and soon graduated into a full-fledged umpire with the first major assignment being the Asian Satellite championship in the city,” says the articulate tennis official.
“I must thank here the highly respected Nitin Kannamwar (Gold Badge Referee) for guiding me right through my career,” says a grateful Shiva Kumar.
Some of the major events which Shiva Kumar officiated include the WTA Hyderabad Open (when Sania Mirza won her first WTA title), Qatar, Dubai Opens besides the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and Davis Cup matches too.
“The urge to keep improving and updated with all the latest in the world of tennis are the reason for my successful stint so far,” he says.For someone who adores Federer and Nadal, Shiva Kumar gently reminds that to see them is itself a distant dream for many tennis lovers and players and to officiate in Wimbledon where these greats will be in action is something which is going to be unforgettable. “I just hope to live up to the expectations by staying cool and giving off my best,” signs off Shiva Kumar who will one of the five umpires from India at Wimbledon.