Zeel Desai gets ready for the big deeds in Wimbledon

Aussie coach Todd Clark who has worked wonders with Zeel over the last two years, felt that the hard lessons of Roland Garros exits were important for the development even as many other top juniors of the country opted to stay back home and compete in other events.

India's Zeel Desai is getting ready to make an impact at the Wimbledon juniors next week.   -  Getty Images

The Grand Slams are the biggest and best school of tennis education for any aspiring professional. The 18-year-old Zeel Desai, ranked 18 among the junior girls in the world, had a tough time digesting the harsh lessons on the red clay of Roland Garros during the French Open.

After the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, and the fine runs in the women’s circuit, not to forget the ITF junior grade-1 title in Malaysia, there was hope that Zeel would move further ahead.

However, Zeel lost first round in singles and second round in doubles, possibly because she lacked the right preparation for the tough clay.

Aussie coach Todd Clark who has worked wonders with Zeel over the last two years was unperturbed, as he felt that the hard lessons were important for the development even as many other top juniors of the country opted to stay back home and compete in other events.

“French Open was a great experience for Zeel. The major lesson was the importance that fitness plays, especially at the French where points are longer. Another point is that everyone is beatable”, observed Todd Clark.

Having missed a preparatory event before the French, the coach was categorical that Zeel should play Roehampton grade-1 event before Junior Wimbledon.

“I continue to learn about Zeel and the type of preparation she needs. The additional match play is what she needs to be both mentally and physically sharp. Zeel is looking forward to the grass court season”, said the coach.

Zeel with the support of her coach has worked on some aspects of her game, as action shifts from clay to grass.

“I am confident that Zeel can perform well in her first main draw in Junior Wimbledon”, said Todd Clark.

Due to the commitments in the Academy in Ahmedabad, the coach will not be travelling with Zeel to London, but said that he would be in regular touch to guide Zeel who has won a singles and doubles title each in the ITF women’s circuit so far.

“We have been training on hard court, by focusing on grass court tactics. As you know, grass is an evolving surface. First week at Wimbledon the grass tends to be more lush, faster and sometimes slippery. As the tournament progresses grass become worn, dry and even higher bouncing. Roehampton is close to Wimbledon and the weather will not be different”, he said.

With the AITA sending former FedCup player Arati Natekar as the coach along with other juniors Mahak Jain, Mihika Yadav and Siddhant Banthia, there should be no worries about on the spot guidance and support for Zeel. In fact, all of them will play the grade-1 event in Roehampton as well.

“I am confident that Arati’s experience could only benefit Zeel in Wimbledon”, remarked Todd Clark. The ever so calm coach closed the dialogue on a positive note that he would be, “looking forward to seeing some positive results from all the Indian juniors”.

  Dugout videos