FFT to lend Indian Tennis a helping hand

India has a lot of talent but there needs to be a step-by-step training programme to identify and train players from an early age, according to FFT's Samuel Primaut.

Published : May 26, 2017 18:17 IST , Paris

There aren’t enough clay courts in India, reckons Primaut.
There aren’t enough clay courts in India, reckons Primaut.

There aren’t enough clay courts in India, reckons Primaut.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is keen to offer coaching programs and facilitate construction of more clay courts in India but they also have an advice for the country’s national federation - back talented players to the hilt.

Samuel Primaut, FFT’s Director Development, said they have plans in place for India.

“I would like to see where Indian tennis goes in 10 years. You don’t have a player in top-20. In the world, out of top 50 players, close to 30-35 are those who have grown up on clay courts,” Primaut said on the sidelines of ‘Rende-Vous’, a Rolland Garros event that gives kids a chance to play at the French Open.

“We have plans for India. Our best coach at the National Tennis Centre and someone from the National Technical Department (NTD) can go and educate your coaches. We had sent Bernard Pestre to Pune sometime back. We can also host few Indian kids for training,” he added.

Primaut said he was impressed with Rohan Bopanna, who has set up an academy in Bengaluru with clay courts.

“We have spoken to him. We would like to help him by having a tie up with him. He has done an incredible job by investing money on clay courts. We will see how it goes.”

“We want to build more red clay courts and that’s why we proposed to each federation (which is part of Rendez-Vous) that we can facilitate construction. You have a huge population like China but there are not enough courts.”

Asked about his strategy to expand the game’s base in India, Primaut said he would start training kids at an early age.

“We have a step-by-step coaching programme in Paris. The game has to be played at the school level with mini courts and light balls,” he said.

“Then it has to be taken to Universities. Talent has to be identified and good players have to be backed with a plan. Every player is unique. I don’t know much about how it goes in India but the talent has to be backed.”

“Look at what Kei Nishikori has done. The whole of Japan now wants to play tennis because of him. You need to have top players.”

FFT, in association with All India Tennis Association (AITA), had launched in 2015 the Rendez-Vous event for Under-18 boys, which gives an opportunity to kids from six countries to earn a wildcard entry into the junior French Open.

Talking about Rendez-Vous, Primaut said they want to stick to six countries as of now.

“We have added US to the list but don’t want to expand more. We will focus on the Pyramid in each country. The objective is to promote clay court tennis. We recently had done a survey in India and found that we are not far from Wimbledon (in terms of popularity),” he said.

“India’s Adil Kalyanpur played at our event and was spotted by Rafael Nadal’s team. He is now training there (in Mallorca). This is our endeavor to promote talent,” he signed off.

Siddanth Banthia and Malika Mararthe had qualified for this year’s Rendez-Vous but the former pulled out due to an injury and in his place Abhimanyu Vannemreddy is competing.

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