Nepali Times Asian Paints
Sports
The Lahan Open



LAHAN-Tennis lovers in this central tarai highway town have got together to construct a tennis court from local material, which includes cowdung paste and clay. And the result is perfect.

"Earlier I was the only player, now we have several players and I am trying to be on the court every day for at least an hour," says Albrect Henning, a doctor who works at a hospital here.

Henning first built a concave practice wall in the hospital premises and when some of his colleagues showed interest he decided to make the tennis court. However, red clay needed a lot of water so the doctors hit upon the idea of surfacing the court with clay and cowdung paste, which did the trick.

Cowdung paste mixed with clay and water is used in traditional Nepali houses to cover verandas and doorsteps. Besides giving houses a soft clean look, it is supposed to be antiseptic. The technology was there, it was just a question of using it on a tennis court.

The advantages of a cowdung court are that the ingredients for the surface are locally available and it is an income generator for local women, who need to resurface it once a month. They are experts because they smear cowdung paste at home all the time. Unlike a red clay court the surface does not need watering, it is softer than a hard court and thus causes less strain on ankles and knees-and on tennis balls so that they last longer.

"During monsoon when the grass is growing quickly on the court, you get a feeling of Wimbledon," jokes Henning. Its maintenance depends on use. Normally it needs a new layer once a month.

After the necessary practice, the hospital staff arranged the 'First Lahan Open International Tennis Tournament' in 1997. "Since Boris Becker couldn't attend, I was the winner," Henning says modestly, "but I was very much familiar with the bumps in the court and knew exactly where to play the balls."

"Tennis keeps me fit physically and helps me remain mentally relaxed and happy," he adds. Henning also won the 1998 Lahan Open but since then the hospital staff have been too busy to play tournaments.

Henning and 120 local and international staff work at the Lahan eye hospital which performs more than 50,000 eye operations per year and is the second largest eye hospital in the world.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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