Rajkumardaa, that is how Samarendra Rajkumar was known to the children who played at the JORHAT Tennis Club during the last three decades. Today, some of them may be in their forties, some in their thirties, others in their twenties and while some of them are still in the Club today, but all had one thing in common ——— their love, respect and regards for him. Whether he was their friend, whether he was a father like figure to them or whether he was a person with whom they could play and fool around with is an equation known only to the children and the person concerned. And how this relationship developed is a mystery to one and all -because this was not with a few children, or a few batches of children but with all those children who had come across him at the JORHAT Tennis Club during the last 30 - 40 years.
A tall man with a stoutly figure in his white tennis dress, the racquet swung round his shoulders, enters the club on his bicycle with a broad smile on his face and two pocket full of sweets. He mixes with the children, has a word or two with the coaches and employees of the Club, then takes a seat in the corner to watch the children play. He distributes the sweets to the children, but knowing very well that everyone cannot be covered in the same day, plans it out in such a manner that no repetition occur until all have had their share —— and that may take three to four days or more.
Samarendra Rajkumar who was born in Tezpur, spent a major part of his childhood in Dibrugarh, staying in Chowkidinghee and Khaliamari, started his schooling there and studied upto Class IX in Dibrugarh Government High School. It was in Dibrugarh in The Dibrugarh Club, situated near the Polo Ground on the banks of the Brahmaputra, that he learnt to play tennis, enjoyed playing it and went on to become a very good student of the game.
When his father, Late Sarbanda Rajkumar, the then ADM of Dibrugarh was transferred to Gùwahati, Samarendra joined Cotton Collegiate High School from where he passed his H.S.L.C. examition. He did his Pre University from J.B.COLLEGE, Jorhat and then joined Aryya Vidyapeeth College, Guwahati for his degree course. In 1968 he got and took admission in the J.J.COLLEGE of ARCHITECTURE, Mumbai and obtained his Architectural Degree in 1973. He got employment in the Directorate of Physical Plant, Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat in 1976 and from there retired in 2008.
In Jorhat, besides carrying out his official obligations, Samarendra Rajkumar was associated with many a sports, cultural and social organisations.
Besides the JORHAT Tennis Club where he was an active member since the 1970s, serving as the Asst Secretary, Treasurer and Secretary ( He was the Secretary consecutively from 1986 to 2014 when he requested to be relieved from this responsibility due to health reasons ) , he was also an active member of TRIVENNIE, the club he represented in cricket in the JORHAT Cricket League
Whether it was the RONGALI BIHU organised by Dakshin Jorhat BIHU Sanmilan at the JORHAT College Field or the Central BIHU Meet in the Court Field it was Samarendra Rajkumar under whom the stage, pandel and other technical requirements were carried out.
For the Double Wicket Cricket event in 1984 and the Limited Over Cricket Match in 1985, which were organised by TRIVENNIE and in which players of the Indian Cricket Team that won the World Cup in 1983 participated, it was under Samarendra Rajkumar that the field preparation and all the technical requirements including the preparation of the pitches was carried out. And the playing field including the pitches were highly praised by the participating players that included Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amaranth, Ravi Sashtri, Srikant, Vengsarkar, Syed Kirmani among others.
In the year 1986, a new body of the JORHAT Tennis Club was constituted with Samarendra Rajkumar as the Secretary and like minded persons as the Office Bearers and Members of the Executive Committee. A major change was brought about in which priority was given to the promotion and development of the children with more playing hours facilities.
Encouraging response came from the young boys and girls of Jorhat and the 1st Jorhat Open, a State Ranking Tourment, was successfully conducted in 1990 and this event is conducted every year.
The next development of the JORHAT TENNIS CLUB came when it was decided to host the Senior tiols and Hard Court Tennis Championship from 1st to 7th February 1993. Everything had to be organised —
fincial resources, infrastructural facilities and what not.
On the Architectural Design of Samarendra Rajkumar and the Structural Design of a Professor of Jorhat Engineering College ( I think it was Prof Swamy ) who also helped prepare the estimates, the work started on the 15th of September 1992 and within FOUR and a HALF MONTHS it was completed. The JORHAT Tennis Club had the facilities to conduct tiol and Intertiol Ranking Tourments. In this it was a great team work by all the core members with Rajkumar looking after the construction works. In fact at the site he was all four rolled into one —— architect, engineer, supervisor and ‘mohori’.
The event alongwith the other events that were conducted over the years were highly appreciated by the players, officials and members of the press.
Last month, I think it was the 14th of June , I had gone to see him at his residence to inform him that I shall be away for about six weeks and also to enquire about his health, which I usually do whenever convenient. He looked better and he told me that he was feeling good and that his pain in the knees was also improving. I suggested he should now go to the Club and meet people as he has been alone for a long period. He agreed. After I left Jorhat on the 23rd of June, I learned that he has started going to the club. I was happy and so were the other Members.
But suddenly, on the 8th of July, he left and that too without saying good bye.