Nandan Bal predicts bright future for Indian girls

Nandan had last coached the Indian Fed Cup team in 1999, and was pleasantly impressed with the "professional conduct" of Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Snehadevi Reddy and Riya Bhatia, who ensured the India stayed in Group-1 of the Asia-Oceania zone.

“It was such a pleasure to be with the girls who want to get better. They were professional on and off the court. These girls lack a bit of self belief. If they play at a higher level for five to six months, they will be able to compete better,” said Nandan.   -  R. Ragu

One of the best tennis coaches in the country who has immense experience at almost every level, including a long stint with the Davis Cup team, Nandan Bal predicted a very bright future for Indian women’s tennis.

Nandan had last coached the Indian Fed Cup team in 1999, and was pleasantly impressed with the “professional conduct” of Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Snehadevi Reddy and Riya Bhatia, who ensured the India stayed in Group-1 of the Asia-Oceania zone, with a sterling fare in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“It was such a pleasure to be with the girls who want to get better. They were professional on and off the court. These girls lack a bit of self belief. If they play at a higher level for five to six months, they will be able to compete better,” said Nandan.

“They are strong, fit and hit the ball well,” said the coach, who saw the team negotiate tough teams like Japan and China, before beating the Philippines to avoid the relegation play-off.

Karman Kaur did very well to win both her singles and doubles matches against the Philippines and Nandan was candid in his observations.

“Karman has a very bright future. There is no doubt about that. Serve is her strength. But, for such a tall girl, the second serve lets her down. Am sure she is working with her coaches to improve on that. Her forehand is a hammer. The backhand is an area which she needs to work on,” said the coach.

Looking ahead, Nandan acknowledged that the team had given a good account of itself despite the absence of the best doubles player Sania Mirza.

“With Ankita, Karman, along with Snehadevi and Riya being the nucleus, and with players like Mihika, Pranjala and Zeel back home, I see Indian women’s tennis being at its best in the next two to three years,” said Nandan.

Japan was too strong for India with its high-ranked players, but Nandan felt the girls had done a good job against China. They did go through some anxious moments before sealing it in the doubles against the Philippines.

“Ankita did not have a great day. She had lost to Katharina (Lehnert) earlier in the Fed Cup. We won the doubles in a messy way, saving a setpoint at 3-5. Overall, it was a good effort,” summed up Nandan.