Tennis coaches exchange ideas, lessons to tap talent

Professional coaches came up with pragmatic answers to issues troubling tennis in the country during the fortnight-long webinar.

Tennis coaches exchanged professional knowledge during the webinar.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Introspection is the key to development. Professional coaches came up with refreshingly pragmatic answers in providing a robust conclusion to the fortnight-long webinar, organised by the Sports Authority of India and the All India Tennis Association (AITA).

The Chairman of the coaches education programme, Bharat Oza, was thrilled with the progress made by the coaches, ever since the movement was put into motion in 1999. He stressed the importance of licensing for the coaches on par with the other professionals, so that everyone could keep themselves updated.

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“Grass is always green on the other side’’, said former Davis Cup and Fed Cup coach Nandan Bal, as he viewed the spurt of young players going to Europe, US and other countries in Asia for training.

“Indian coaches have high technical competence,” said Nandan even as he pointed out that many players were getting their flaws strengthened by going for rigorous training abroad.

“They let you hit a million balls. You have six hours of tennis and two and a half hour of physical training. The coaches are also committed. The Indian coaches can learn about being consistent and maintaining intensity. Their fitness sessions are superb,” said Nandan, as he balanced the positive and negative sides of young players training in other countries.

“If the kids reach technical proficiency and are physically ready, they can take advantage of training abroad,” said Nandan.

Mind trainer Dr. Janki Deole advised the points of discipline, self-awareness, delayed gratification which can be practised easily by the players to become mentally stronger.

Chelston Pinto emphasised the importance of “training under fatigue” to be able to perform under pressure.

Coach Hemant Bendrey sought further tuning of the tournament structure and ranking system for the juniors, to help them make qualitative progress, rather than just be chasing higher rank.

He also viewed American college tennis as a fruitful venture for Indian players who were maturing late, but felt that they needed to retain the focus on tennis to benefit from the system.

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Nutritionist Shiny Surendran was fluent with all her suggestions for different situations, and advised locally available food items to strengthen the system.

Coach Gary O’Brien highlighted the fine work of the Chandigarh Rural Tennis Scheme (CHART) and asked the coaches to keep about 10 per cent of the earnings in their centres to encourage good players with incentives.

Coach Kawaljeet Singh highlighted the importance of tuning the attitude of the kids towards the ball. He asked the coaches to encourage the kids to gain strong foundation and a streak of aggression, towards developing a weapon.

“Champions never leave a ball unchallenged’’, said Kawaljeet, even as he highlighted the inability of even some of the best players to deal with mid-court balls. He also said that it should not be tennis in the mind of the kids all the time, and that they should relax into other activities.

“Yoga really improves mental ability,” he said, advising the coaches to capitalise on the Indian methods for a sound mind in a sound body.

Taking pride about the Maharashtra Tennis Association holding the maximum number of national and international tournaments, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Manoj Vaidya said that online system was being followed for entries etc., to make it easier for the players and their parents.

Coach Isha Chopra answered questions about dealing with the training of girls during puberty.

Director of coaching, Sureshkumar Sonachalam, who efficiently anchored the show for 12 days, two hours every day, said that entry level tennis had become remarkably affordable and that good players would get support as they progressed.

Nar Singh said that there were enough courts and schemes available for everyone, and that travel made it financially hard for many players after a stage. He also talked about the selection of racquets, string patterns and different strings that can make a world of difference to one’s game.

The Regional Director of SAI, Sonepat, which felicitated the webinar, Lalita Sharma said that it was an enjoyable experience for her listening to the experts. The CEO of AITA Akhouri Bishwadeep congratulated the coaches and experts for the consistently vibrant exercise of exchanging professional knowledge.

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