Grooming budding tennis stars

It seems that many top Indian sportspersons turn their gaze to coaching when they reach the business end of their careers. It is more so with our tennis stars.Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirzahave been running their academies to train youngsters in their footsteps.

Grooming budding tennis stars-1Now it is the turn of the doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna to join that illustrious bunch.  TheCoorgi playercelebrated his 36th birthday by launching his Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy (RBTA) in Bengaluru on March4.

The big serving Indian ace who was once tipped to make the top 100 ranking in the men’s singles did not make that bracket. But, switching to doubles in 2007, he made quite a name for himself in paired events. Three years ago, Rohan Bopanna was ranked as No. 3 doubles player in the world and his best achievement to date has been a runner-up spot in the US Open Championship in 2010 and he partneredAisamQuereshi of Pakistan in that event. Bopanna is still active on the doubles circuit and has been a key member of the Indian Davis Cup team.

A wish fulfilled

Starting a tennis academy was very much on Rohan Bopanna’s mind for quite some time now as he wished to give something back to the game that he loves. That wish turned true with the formal launch of the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy, which will be fully operational from April10. The academy will train youngsters in the age group of 4 to 14 years.Rohan Bopanna’s long association with the sport has made him realize the need for a well-rounded tennis academyin India that would be committed to the nurturing and development of the sport at the grass roots.

“Throughout my playing career I have always taken the opportunity of interacting with coaches and academies across the worldand this experience helped me gain a better understanding of the approach that is required to build stronger,more committed players. Having learnt and played the game in India, where the focus is mainly on developing tennis skills, unlike abroad where I saw there was an equal focus on both fitness and tennis skills. I realized that there was a gap in our training and methodology which hampered the growth and abilities of our talent and that fitness was a key component in developing talent from a young age. I wanted to create a truly international coaching experience which developed players to their complete potential while encouraging them to play the game and have fun while doing so,” said Rohan Bopanna.

Support team

He has built a support team for his academy and prominent among them is South African Olympic silver medalist and French Open winner in mixed doubles, Pietie Norval, who will be the mentor for the coaching team at   RBTA. An ITF“A”level trainer, Norval has served as coach of the South African junior national tennis team and trained several international players. He has also worked extensively with schools andinstitutionsdeveloping and improving their sport environment and child development programmes.He will make regular visits to the academy to ensure that the resident coaching team is delivering a truly international standard training programme.

“Our priority will be on fitnesswhich is often neglected by youngsters. The focus will be building strong fitness and providing a solid foundation in basic techniques and getting the kids fully ready to play tournaments with confidence and right craft,” said Norval.

Norval will be joined by a team of certified coaches who share a common vision. Another professional who is set to provide valuable inputsto RBTA is fitness coach DrYash Pandey, who has worked with several international sportsmen as well as the Indian Davis Cup team, All India Football Federation, Sheffield United Football Club Academy, the UK and KokilabenDhirubhaiAmbaniHospital. Dr Pandey has developed a unique fitness program specifically for children to improve theirmotor coordination, flexibility, hand-eye coordination and balance.

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