Dave Miley is a pioneer in the world of tennis, and has made immense contribution to the growth of the game.

At a time when Korean Chung Hyeon has captured the imagination of the world, by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, Miley has been hired as consultant by the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) to provide further boost to the game in the region. Miley, who was with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for 25 years, looking after the development of the game, portrayed a bright future for Asian tennis, in a free wheeling chat with Sportstar here on Wednesday.

“I watched Yuki Bhambri qualify at the Australian Open, and play his first round. The other guy, Ramkumar Ramanathan, who was unlucky to lose in the final round of the qualifying event, also looked good,” said Dave Miley, whose vision is to have a global ranking for all players, and keep everyone engaged and motivated to play the game at all levels.

Miley quickly touched a few relevant statistics, and impressed upon the tremendous potential of the numbers doubling soon. “Kei Nishikori played the final of the US Open. Asian tennis looks very exciting. There is a big growth at every level. I feel sorry for other countries. The economy is growing very fast. China has 19.6 million tennis players. It is the second biggest in tennis after the U.S., which has 24 million. India is third with about six million players. France, Germany have 3.5 to 4 million players,” he said.

Can an Asian tennis player win the men’s Grand Slam title in the near future?

While acknowledging the tremendous efforts of Li Na in winning the Grand Slams, Miley was very optimistic about the men, hoping that one would click. However, he warned that it was not just about having many good players. “The boy from China who won the US Open last year, Yibing Wu, is very tall. If he is injury free, he can be in contention to win a Grand Slam. Winning a Grand Slam you need a bit of luck apart from incredible talent. The French federation has an unbelievable system, recognised as one of the best in the world. In a Grand Slam they have 40 players, but they have not won a Grand Slam for years,” observed Miley.

Good role models

Even though the scope for women making a breakthrough in world tennis is better as compared to men, Miley felt that India perhaps does not have the full structure of tournaments to help the girls break through, like the way Sania Mirza did by reaching No. 27 in singles and No.1 in doubles.

“For countries that do not have many tournaments, it is tougher,” he said. “India has a lot of positives. It has role models like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza, who were all very good in singles at their best. You need good infrastructure, more courts, and kids wanting to play. For the good of society, tennis is a good sport. If the government invests in courts, and helps the common man play, it can have a huge impact in the growth of the game. You don’t want tennis to remain an elite sport,” remarked Miley.

Having roped in a personnel who has visited 150 countries, Asian Tennis seems to have got the best person at the moment to help move the region forward ahead of the rest of the world.