Two events deserve to be recorded in golden letters in the pages of the Indian lawn tennis’ history, one was when India made, it to the Challenge Round in the prestigious Davis Cup tournament. The Indian Davis Cup team which battled its way to the Challenge’ Round in 1974. included a Sikh player who. had given a magnificent performance for his team. It was for the first time that a Sikh was donning India colours in lawn tennis. It is no secret in India that this game has always been monopolised by the south, for the obvious reason that better facilities and the necessary infrastructure for the game exist only in that part of the country, as still it does. On the national scene were such names as Vijay Amrithraj, Anand Amrithraj, Premjit Lal, Jaideep Mukherjee and Shashi Menon. Vijay Arnrithraj by then had already emerged as the undisputed top tennis player in the country with a string of upsets over such great names` of the game as Stan Smith, , and red-haired Australian Rod Laver, who has the unique distinction of winning the Grand Slam twice.
Premjit and Jaideep were then struggling to retain their places in the Indian team. But new faces were battling with old ones. One such player ,who by sheer dint of his complete commitment to the game, managed, to make it to the national ;grade was Jasjit Singh, the first-ever Sikh to have moved into the Indian team. During the pre Independence period lawn tennis no doubt was a popular sport in the North, thanks to the patronage shown by Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. But after the division of the country, the game had run short of oxygen here. Thus the entry of Jasjit Singh was simply a tribute to the ability of this young boy.
In 1974, India played Australia in the semifinal in India. The Indian line-up was Vijay Amrithraj, Jasjit Singh and Anand Amrithraj, with Vijay and Jasjit playing singles while Vijay teamed up later with Anand for the doubles. For the two opening-day singles, the draws put the Sikh against Austrialia’s Bob Gillitnan. In fact, India would have desired going one up convincingly with Vijay playing the first singles. However, that was not to be. But hats off to the talented Jasjit who in a see-saw tussle against the Australian notched up the most creditable victory for India. There was great rejoicing in the Indian camp. The match had dragged down to the fifth set with both players trying every trick in their trade. Fortunately, India ultimately won the tie moving second time in the Challenge Round. Elated over the victory, Vijay commented "Jasjit gave us a` fine lead of which India took full advantage. He played marvellous."
So that was Jasjit Singh for India. Jasjit Singh is the only Sikh to have played in all the Grand Slam championships-the French Open, the Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open Tennis Championships. His achievements include victories over many great names in the game. For instance, his victory over Tony Roche, who many times was a semi-finalist -at the Wimbledon. Then he had victories over American Davis Cup player Brian Gottfried, Ross Case, Kim Warwick and Mike Estep. Estep had beaten India’s Vijay Amrithraj. Jasjit was ranked ’70 in ATP ranking in 1974.
Jasjit Singh later settled down in New York, employed as Tennis Director at Grossinger Hotel and Country Club, Grossinger, New York.
Source: Sikh Olympians – Harbans Singh Virdi