Premier Tennis Club in Kremenchuk which is now a shelter home – image courtesy: ATPtour.com
Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, several facilities in the country are being transformed into shelter homes for the displaced.
One such facility happens to be the tennis club “Premier” in Kremenchuk, which is an industrial city in Central Ukraine.
Situated 250 kilometers southeast of the capital Kyiv, the town was hit by Russian missiles on April 24, as per reports.
As a result of the rocket attack on Kremenchuk on Sunday, one person was killed and seven were injured, as per media reports.
Some nine missiles fired by the occupiers hit the Kremenchuk thermal power plant, which is presently the only fully functioning oil refinery in the country.
According to the Ukrainian Tennis Federation, more than 100 refugees comprising families from Kharkiv, Mariupol, Popasna, Chernihiv, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and other places now live in the tennis club that provides beds, daily food, and help from psychologists.
The club hosted a Davis Cup tie between Ukraine and Slovakia in 2013. Situated in Poltava Oblast, the facility has also been a venue for ITF Futures events.
Ukrainian tennis player Vitaliy Sachko, whose father founded the club in 2010, told ATPtour.com that people were being provided shelter in the club.
“All the people were coming by train from the parts [of Ukraine] that are really dangerous to stay, [such as] the cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol,” Sachko said.”There were some groups in the city that were helping all the people and asking everybody who can help with the food, who can help the people [find somewhere] to stay,” he said.
Sachko, who is organizing the effort from the Czech Republic where he is based, lauded volunteers who are providing food to those lodged in the club.
“There are people from the club, volunteers that are bringing food, they are helping a lot,” he said.”The wife of my father’s friend who built the club with him is there every day. If someone needs medical help or anything else, she is helping them and she is there with other people cooking for them every day,” he added. “She is buying the products for them, so she is doing a lot of jobs.”
Vitaliy Sachko is currently ranked World No. 243.
Ukraine has a proud tennis tradition
After tennis was introduced as a full medal sport at the 1988 Olympic Games, Ukraine, which was part of the USSR at the time, began nurturing tennis talent in a big way.
After becoming an independent nation, post the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continued to produce world-class players.
Andrei Medvedev remains one of the greatest male tennis players the country has produced. Medvedev, who achieved a career-high ranking of World No. 4, is a French Open finalist with 11 ATP titles to his name.
Svitlona, who is currently ranked World No. 29, was a semifinalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019. The 27-year-old from Odesa reached a career-high ranking of World No. 3 in 2017.
Kalinina currently occupies the 37th slot in the WTA rankings, while Kostyuk is ranked World No. 60.