A coach’s role in spotting and honing the skills of a player is unparalleled and immeasurable. The hard work put in by the coaches, trainers and support staff often goes unnoticed but it plays an important role in raising a sportsperson’s calibre. In order to raise the standard of Tennis in the country, India legend Leander Paes feels that the sport needs to have people like former cricketer Rahul Dravid and former badminton player Pullela Gopichand.
The likes of Dravid and Gopichand have worked tirelessly post their retirement routines in producing and nurturing young talent in their respective sports. Speaking on the sidelines of the third edition of the Maharashtra Open, Paes said, “If I look at some of past players of India who I have tremendous respect for, there are players like Rahul Dravid, Pullela Gopichand who have trained a younger generation to the highest level.”
Gopichand, who won the All England title in 2001 despite lack of resources, has transitioned into a successful coaching career and produced two Olympic medallists for the country – Saina Nehwal (2012) and PV Sindhu (2016).
On the other hand, former India captain Dravid has been doing a tremendous job in nurturing young Indian talent in cricket post his retirement. Under his reign as a coach, Dravid led India Under 19 team to World Cup triumph in New Zealand in 2018.
“We really need to reinvent tennis because competition for sport in India is huge now with all the leagues, not just IPL. Table Tennis, boxing, wrestling, badminton, Kabaddi are becoming huge in our country,” said Paes.
“Tennis in India needs an energised injection to be infused. We need to attract lot more kids. Nowadays so many distractions are there for them and sport and tennis is a great way to channelise them,” he added.
Eight-time Grand Slam doubles champion Paes, who partnered with Matthew Ebden at the Maharashtra Open, lost in the men’s doubles quarter-finals to Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja.
Paes, who announced in January that he will be retiring after the 2020 season, heaped praise on Ramanathan-Raja for their performance. “They were playing amazingly well with 85 percent first serve win. That was unbelievable. They were on a roll, everything they touched there was gold,” Paes said.