New Delhi: Tennis star Somdev Devvarman believes that the Khelo India University setup will have a positive impact on the players of university and college level who want to represent India at the highest level.

The first edition is being organised by the Government of Odisha in association with the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Association of Indian Universities, National Sports Federation and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and participating universities. The games are slated to take place in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1 to unearth more talent.

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“The Khelo India school games which concluded last month was a huge success and the University games will change the dynamics of the sporting setup in India. I feel there is a gap between school and college level sports. We have different type of competitions when it comes to schools but I am happy that now the athletes will have one more important tournament to participate,” said Somdev.

Expressing his thoughts on the college level competitions he said, “I have been a part of NCAA Men's Tennis tournaments during my four years at the University of Virginia, they are very effective and helpful for players and I am happy to see that our government is starting such an initiative at the college level. The NCAA has tapped talents who have represented their country at the Olympics and other international level tournaments and I believe Khelo India University Games will help the Indian players in the same way but the results won't be immediate as it will take time to nurture talent.” 

The Guwahati born has won several laurels for the country including gold medals in singles during the Commonwealth Games, Delhi in 2010 and a gold medal in singles and doubles in the Asian Games, Guangzhou 2010.

He has represented India in various international tournaments including ATP World Tour, Grand Slam and Davis Cup. His best achievement on the ATP World Tour was reaching the final of the Chennai Open in 2009, as a wild card entry. 

Somdev was the only collegiate player to have made three consecutive finals at the NCAA, winning back-to-back finals in his junior and senior years at the University of Virginia. In 2018, he was awarded with the civilian award Padma Shri.

Speaking on the various government initiatives to promote sports, the Arjuna Awardee said, “We have good opportunities through the government schemes but now I feel it can be much better. Now we should focus on the results, to build a sporting culture. Two or three years won't be enough but it will take at least 9-10 years. I also believe that at the end of the day the participation should increase for better results, people should play sports not only to turn pro but also to stay fit.”