In the late 19th century, tennis emerged as a game in the British nation. After a decade, the British Army and civilian officers brought the game to India. It slowly started picking up pace in India, and tournaments were held. Some of the prominent tennis tournaments held back then were the Punjab Lawn Tennis Championship (1885, Lahore), Bengal Lawn Tennis Championship (1887, Kolkata), and All India Tennis Championships (1910, Allahabad).
In the early years of introduction of the game in the country, the British players dominated the championships. But soon, the Indian players began establishing themselves at the national level. In 1915, Mohd Saleem, the Indian tennis player from Lahore, triumphed in the Punjab Championship. He also won the titles from 1919 and 1926. He became an inspiration for other Indian players.
In 1917, NS Iyer won the Bengal Championship title. In 1919, the All India Singles Tennis Championship conducted at Allahabad was won by Nagu. As a need for a governing body for this sports was felt, the All India Lawn Tennis Association (AILTA) was established in 1920 at Lahore. It formulated rules and regulations like those followed by the Lawn Tennis Association of Britain.