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Naga Reddy: Reflections on a Career Spent Pursuing and Developing Sport

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

(TF) What are you up to these days?

As I have a New Zealand PR (permanent residence), I spend more time with my granddaughter, daughter-in-law and my son Ashwin.

(TF) How often do you end up back in Fiji?

I go to Fiji once a year to spend some time with my relatives.

(TF) You were a nation rep in three or four sports. What were they and could you tell us a little about each sport and some of your career highlights?

I was a national tennis team member. Besides tennis, I was in the national soccer squad and cricket national squad.

(TF) Before you were involved in tennis, you played high-level soccer. Can you tell us a little about your soccer career?

I played for the champion Ba team from 1973 to 1976. When I was at teacher’s training college, I was in the Suva soccer team. When I started teaching in Raki Raki, I played for the district team for five years. After coming back from Melbourne Uni, I was posted to Xavier college in 1972.  I coached Xavier college soccer team to two wins in the Fiji Secondary Schools Soccer National Championships. I also coached the Fiji secondary schools under 18s national team on their New Zealand tour. We won all the five matches we played against the top teams from north and south islands All my players except two made it into the Fiji National team.

(TF) I believe you were also an educator. How long did you teach? Were your teaching and athletic careers helpful in your tennis career?

I taught for 35 yrs. Yes, it helped me a lot in imparting my knowledge and experiences successfully to the students. It also helped me a lot when it came to decision making and implementing new ideas and organizing tournaments, etc.

[caption id="attachment_1381" align="aligncenter" width="368"] Naga Reddy (left) played a critical role in developing tennis in the 1990s.[/caption]

(TF) How did you get involved in tennis?

I was heavily involved in soccer and cricket till I got injured in soccer in 1977 and could not play any and as my living quarters was by the tennis courts some of my friends influenced me to take up tennis. Since then I have been involved in tennis as a player, administrator and as a coach.

How many years were you with the ITF?

About 22 years.

(TF) What were the early days like trying to develop tennis in Fiji?

We struggled a lot when we started developing tennis in the country. There were very few tennis courts, not enough equipment, coaches, etc. The ITF Development Officer Mr. Dan O’Connell was appointed as the development officer for Pacific Oceania by ITF London in 1992. He was based in Fiji, and he structured the new development program for Oceania. We in Oceania are now reaping the progress of Mr. Dan’s development program.

[caption id="attachment_1383" align="aligncenter" width="397"] Naga Reddy and Dan O'Connell celebrate Ian Honila (SLB) & Adalyn Hazelman (FJI) leaving Fiji to play college tennis in America.[/caption]

(TF) You played an integral role in getting over 30 ITF tennis players to America. Why was this cause so important to you?

The scholarship program to the USA is the brainchild of Mr. Dan O’Connell my best friend and doubles partner. We all discussed what will the tennis kids do after form six or seven, and the idea of scholarships was born.

(TF) What are some of your most memorable moments in tennis?

Running the regional tennis tournaments for the Pacific region with Mr. Doug McCurdy who was the director of ITF when the Regional tennis program started.

[caption id="attachment_1382" align="aligncenter" width="371"] Kwalam Apisah (PNG), John Shannon (FJI), and Naga Reddy (FJI) share a beer after another succesful regional event.[/caption]

(TF) How often do you get out on the court these days?

Not as much as before, but I hope to get in the court ounce I am organized.

(TF) Do you have any advice for the next generation looking to get involved in tennis?

They should get fully committed and give their best when training and when they are playing the tournaments. They should also put enough time in their education to help them with their tennis and to get a good job, and they are set for their life.

TENNIS FOR LIFE!

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