Henman and the Road to Wimbledon

Henman, who has been associated with the junior tennis scheme for the last 13 years in UK, and for the last three years in India where he had tasted his initial success on the professional circuit more than 20 years ago, said that it has been a great learning curve for him.

Tim Henman said that it was cricket that was taking the cream in India.   -  Vivek Bendre

The remarkable success of Indian players in the HSBC Road to Wimbledon tennis scheme may bode well for the future of the game in the country, but former world No.4 Tim Henman stressed that it was a mere stepping stone and a lot has to be addressed in preparing world class players.

Talking to the media at the DLTA on Thursday, Henman, who has been associated with the junior tennis scheme for the last 13 years in UK, and for the last three years in India where he had tasted his initial success on the professional circuit more than 20 years ago, said that it has been a great learning curve.

“It is lot of hard work and commitment,’’ said Henman. In the last edition, Sacchitt Sharma and Mahak Jain won the boys and girls titles respectively in the UK under-14 championship on the grass courts of Wimbledon in August.

“The Indian juniors adapt well to the slow grass courts of Wimbledon,” reasoned Paul Hutchins, the Director of the tournament.

Pointing out that there were 20,000 children involved in the overall junior scheme in UK, Hutchins said that the idea was focused more towards attracting kids to play tennis against much competition from other games.

Henman himself argued on similar lines and said that it was important to attract the best athletes towards the game, and said that it was cricket that was taking the cream in the country.

Even though the target was under-14 age group, Hutchins expressed happiness about Adil Kalyanpur, who had won the doubles title with Siddhant Banthia in the first edition, and Mahak Jain, winning ITF under-18 titles in recent weeks, and strengthening their tennis career with sound coaching guidance.

Hutchins reiterated that both the Wimbledon Foundation and the All England Lawn Tennis Club were committed towards the junior tennis initiative.

When queried about the top three players of men’s tennis, Henman conceded that Novak Djokovic had clearly nosed ahead as the “clear” world No.1 with his 11th Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

“Djokovic does look unstoppable. It is disappointing that Federer had a knee surgery. Nadal has 14 Grand Slams and is only 29. We should not be writing him off,” warned Henman.

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