Trapped In India, Moldovan Baskov Feeds The Masses
Dmitrii Baskov enjoyed one of the best experiences of his tennis career in January. However, it’s been a wild ride since.
The 26-year-old, whose career-high FedEx ATP Ranking is No. 1,366, was part of Team Moldova in the inaugural ATP Cup. Not only did he represent his country, but Baskov got to be around some of the best players in the world.
Afterwards, Baskov was excited to visit India for the first time on the way home to train at Ace Tennis Academy in Ahmedabad.
“January in Moldova, it’s cold, there is not much space to practise, nobody to really practise with,” Baskov told ATPTour.com. “India was just a good place to make a stop.”
The Moldovan booked a ticket to fly home on 31 March. However, those plans were derailed by the spread of the coronavirus.
“When the lockdown hit here in India, it was already pretty big in Europe. I’d heard about Italy, I’d heard about Germany, I’d heard about even Russia. When things were happening, I didn’t know if I should leave or I should stay. I decided staying in India might be safest,” Baskov said. “It’s just a good place, honestly. A lot of fresh air, a lot of sun, a lot of space to do fitness or whatever by myself. I can’t do that in my apartment in Moldova.”
Baskov had never been in Asia before, but he is certainly making an impact. The Moldovan is staying with the academy’s director, Pramesh Modi, and his wife, Ami Modi. One day they were talking about the situation, and Baskov recalls Ami worrying about the people who weren’t getting food.
“We were like, ‘Okay, let’s try to cook some food and distribute it on the street. That was the first day. We did maybe 200 portions. We drove around, we gave the food, everyone was happy and then the next day the same thing happened. After a couple days we cooked for 500 people,” Baskov said. “I don’t know how it happened, but now we’re packing every day about 2,000 to 3,000 portions. The government cars come to pick it up because the quarantine is very strict. You can’t really drive, police stations are everywhere, so we can’t distribute it.
“We just order the food from someone who cooks it in huge amounts, he brings us huge jars, and we pack it in proper packages and give it to the people.”
Ami is the founder of the Shree Sava Foundation, which Baskov says has received support from the local community to help with this initiative. They spend an hour and a half in the morning to package lunches, and another hour and a half later in the day to package dinner.
“There are 24 hours of freedom, you can afford to do something good for society,” Baskov said. “It’s obvious that some people need help… I consider myself lucky being here with such great people. Not everyone is that lucky. Not everyone has the financial support, not everyone has the financial safety and I think everyone would do it if they have the opportunity. I’m sure, especially tennis players.”
Baskov’s parents are both doctors in Russia, and he says his father, who had been working in an ambulance, came down with COVID-19 about three weeks ago. He is not clear of the virus yet, but has been feeling better.
“Even if I was there, I couldn’t be in touch with him,” Baskov said. “He has to self-isolate himself when he’s sick.
“Deep down I’m really proud of them. They’re doctors. That’s how the world survives for now, because of them.”
Baskov could only come up with one word to describe the roller-coaster he’s been on since the start of the year — “crazy” — but he still keeps in touch with his ATP Cup teammates via a WhatsApp group. He says that captain Vladimir Albot is the most active in the chat.
“We talk once in a while just checking in on each other, but there’s not much to talk about with everyone staying home, or wherever they were stuck,” said Baskov, who did not play an official match in the event. “[Vladimir] the most active in the group. I love him! As soon as I message something in the group you can be sure in two minutes he’s going to reply.”
Baskov says they cannot play tennis right now due to the lockdowns, but he’s been able to hit some balls against the wall for a short time here and there, while also maintaining his fitness.
“You have no idea how much we crave now to get back on the court.”