'It's been a wonderful ride as far as I am concerned'

"Paes En Sport was started by my father years back to look after my marketing, sponsorship, travelling — basically player management for myself before we went out to market Mahesh (Bhupathi) as well, apart from promising players like Sunil Kumar and a few other juniors. At the same time, in the name of tennis we started to build athletes, because that was my father's forte. At Paes En Sport the tennis academy, we try to teach the kids eye-hand/eye-foot co-ordination, we try to get the core of their body (stomach, lower abs, quadriceps, hamstrings) very strong because in any sport, those are the essentials.

"We also try to teach the child the mind game, strength of mind, positive thinking, quick thoughts. We pick up children from five years all the way to 18 and try to nurture them, both boys and girls, in the name of tennis to build athletes. Each child has his/her own ability and ways of learning so you have to look at each child as an individual and work accordingly. The academy did well for about seven years and then both dad and myself started getting busy with responsibility. In the long-term picture of things, tennis is not the only sport my family stands for. We stand for basketball (mum Jennifer), hockey (dad Dr. Vece Paes) and me in tennis.

"I tried to nurture my father, at the same time, to handle sports training and sports science in different disciplines, whether he was with the Indian Davis Cup team since 1991, the national hockey and football teams and now with the Asian Cricket Council. Basically I tried to get him a very broad base in different sports so that eventually when I do finish with my tennis, I can give back to India more than just tennis. My family stands for athleticism and professionalism and hence I would like to give back in that manner.

"There are plans in the pipeline to definitely give back to Indian sport what my family got out of it and put our learnings, passions, sporting abilities and contacts to bring in professional training. When I was a kid I had to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to travel abroad and receive world class training. If one had to go that way, I feel there would not be too many Indian children or families who could go that way so that any child in any part of the country can come to this central place and get professional, world-class training.

"I admire my family the most, apart from Indian hockey teams. I have been very blessed to have been born into the Paes family, not only in terms of inheriting athletic genes, but at same time the environment created at home and opportunities that one got to nurture my body, soul and mind in the way that it prepared me for the life I have been leading for 18 years now and that's most important thing. Coming from a family that was so varied in different sporting disciplines, I admired the hockey team.

"The beauty of an Olympics or an Asian Games is that we get to see what they are about, their character, what hardships they had to go through, the talent they have and how they nurtured it. Being in the Olympics Village is a wonderful experience, each individual athlete is a story in itself, not only Olympics any walk of life each person is a story in itself. I choose to learn from each and every person. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I believe the ability to listen, be perceptive and pick up things is more important than talking.

"Celebrity talk show is definitely a niche that is important. When someone has the ability to narrate one's story, it is one's responsibility to do so. Especially in India where individual athletes are pioneers. There are many adversities, many obstacles that do arise from India and at the same time in this wonderful country, we can tap into a lot more talent by doing motivational talk, encouraging people to live their dream.

"I have done many different events — corporates, sporting fraternity, schools — when I have been the speaker and have been asked to talk about different subjects, not only tennis but just to narrate my story and what that incorporated. There are a few events pending which have had to be rescheduled. It's been a wonderful ride as far as I am concerned in the whole journey that I am on, the path is definitely more enjoyable than reaching the summit.''