17-yr-old Samir Banerjee became the junior Wimbledon champion by defeating fellow American Victor Lilvol in straight sets on Sunday. The Indian-American, apparently, has a Hyderabadi connect. It is indeed a small world, and Hyderabadis are delighted to know that Samir’s mother, Uma, is from Hyderabad. Though she was born in Visakhapatnam, she moved to Hyderabad as a child and grew up in Tarnaka.
She did her schooling in St Ann’s Secunderabad and later went to the US to pursue her higher studies in the 1980s.In the US, she met her future husband, Kunal Banerjee, who is Assamese, and settled there. However, the American-born Samir Banerjee will take a break from tennis and attend college at Columbia University. Yet, despite having made the US their home, the Banerjees have managed to retain their links with the city of pearls.
And that’s not all. The family makes it a point to visit Hyderabad whenever they are in India and have a lot of relatives in the city. Incidentally, Samir’s grandmother also lives in the US, and whenever she visits the family, Samir is said to converse with her in Telugu. His mother, Uma, reveals that she speaks to him in Telugu at home as she wants him to have a connection with his mother tongue.
Another interesting tidbit about the junior champion is that he loves Andhra and Hyderabadi cuisines. Though it’s his second appearance in a grand slam event, Samir did really well and used his game and lanky figure to his advantage and made his family proud.
While Samir’s initial plan was to go to Columbia University, he has to now choose between taking up professional tennis or stay in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tennis circuit.