Like many other games, tennis was even introduced in India by the British Army and Civilian Officers. Conceived in the 1870s, the game reached the Indian soil in 1880s. The game gradually took root among the locales and a number of tournaments like 'Punjab Lawn tennis Championship' at Lahore (Pakistan) (1885), 'Bengal Lawn Tennis Championship' at Calcutta (1887) and the All India Tennis Championships at Allahabad in (1910) were organized. Since British had brought the game, the game was their forte. While initially, British, like TD Berrington and LC Ogbourne, won these championships, Indians soon mastered the technique of the game.
While Mohd Saleem of Lahore won the Punjab Championship in 1915 and thereafter consecutively from 1919 to 1926, in Bengal NS Iyer was the first Indian to bag the title in 1917. As for the All India Tennis Championship at City's Gymkhana Club at Allahabad, the first Indian to make his mark was Mr. Nagu in 1919. After making a swift start, there was no looking back for the Indian table tennis players. They played the game with a greater distinction and soon set their positions in the game. It was in 1920 that the All India Lawn Tennis Association (AILTA) was formed at Lahore. It was thence that constitution framed the rules of the game, based on the lines of the constitution of Lawn Tennis Association of Britain.
In the month of November of its inception year, the first annual general meeting of the AILTA was held at the Town Hall at Delhi. At the meeting, Samuel Perry O'Donnell, a British member of the Indian Civil Service was unanimously elected as the first president. Another important decision taken was the decision to hold the annual 'All India National Championships' at Allahabad and to participate in Davis Cup competition. In the debut year itself, Indian team, comprising of the best players such as SM Jacob, Mohd Saleem, LS Deane and AA Fayzee, defeated a stronger French team to reach the semi finals.
AILTA became the apex or the controlling body in India, who was responsible for all the table tennis matches and tournaments in India. Gaining popularity, the organization expanded and formed Provincial Associations which are today known as State Associations. These associations were affiliated to parent organization, AILTA. In 1922, an Inter Provincial Tournament was organized, of which Punjab LTA, led by Mohd. Saleem, became the first champions. The competition continued till 1939 after which it was suspended due to Second World War.
After the Second World War, AILTA resoluted to conduct two yearly tournaments at all India level - while one was named National Championships of India and organized at the Grass court, the other was called All India Hard Court Championships. The grass court championship was open to foreigners as well. It was in then that the Association changed its name from ' All India Lawn Tennis Association' (AILTA) to 'All India Tennis Association' (AITA). The first ever Grass Court National Championship was organized at Calcutta's South Club, popular as 'the cradle of the game in the country', in 1946.
AITA not only held the national level tournaments, but also the organized the first ever Asian International Championship in Calcutta in the year 1949-1950. In the initial years, though AITA organized various national level tournaments and a few Grand Prix tournaments as well, no single tournament did much to bring in acclamation and recognition to India, mainly because the prize money was too less due to lack of money. However, things eventually changed in the 1990s, as tennis in India got a new face and a new look. Not only the quality of the game enhanced, but even the financial position of the Association improved considerably.
With the players like Ramanathan Krishnan, Jaidip Mukerjea, Premjit Lal and Leander Paes creating ripples and dominating both the Indian and international tennis arena, AITA surely achieved new heights. Though AITA has had itinerant headquarters, covering the length and breath of the country, such as Delhi, Madras and Calcutta, since 1996, it has been permanently fixed at the RK Khanna Stadium in Delhi and is still, dons the cap of being the central governing body for tennis in India.