" But she is getting trained in us for years. What did she achieve in india? Nothing….also .what did sania did with indian coaches? Nothing..look at her ranking aftr ONLY 6m of US traing..here people live in buckets..dream of oceans..to b tennis star one need money.. " ( An SMS message from a dear childhood friend of mine one Mr. MMA – an Canadian Immigrant which I have reproduced here, exactly the way He sent it to me – grammar, punctuation and all.)
My first impulse was to reply back to this SMS but then I thought that probably there are thousands of people who think the same way, over the past few years I have had numerous discussions / debates with people who knew a lot about Tennis or practically nothing but one think was common they glorified Sania and consider no other Indian can come on par with her, well the other girl in question in the SMS is one Ms Nischela Reddy who had secured a scholarship in US and had migrated to US of A to seek better pastures in 2002.
Well when one reads the message the following is loud and clear
· INDIAN COACHES ARE WORTLESS
· INDIANS SHOULD NOT DREAM
· TO BE A TENNIS PROFESSIONAL YOU NEED MONEY
INDIAN COACHES ARE WORTLESS
Indian coaches are worthless?
Really !!!!! I am baffled, I am comparing with cricket because a lot of people can understand the logic behind, lets look at this scenario in cricket, India has produced some of the best players of the world like Bedi, Gavaskar, Prassanna, Azharuddin, Kapil Dev, Sachin to name a few, did any of these players had a foreign coach at their disposal ? Yet when our team needs a coach we are desperately seeking offshore markets.
I fail to understand why we write off our own people who are good, why we cannot pay them what we do to these foreigners? Why we are still slaves in our attitude and approach and consider that only these "Imported people" can deliver the results?
Agreed that the packaging of these so called experts is good, they have polished presentation skills but do we need only the packaging & presentation skills? Are these the only prerequisites of a good coach?
When India won the world cup did they have a foreign coach? Then again under a foreign coach did we replicate that performance?
Anyway coming back to tennis and that SMS I would prefer to break it into small questions and answer…
But she is getting trained in us for years. What did she achieve in india?
The player here in question is one Ms Nischela Reddy who was trained by me from 1995 till she got the US scholarship, well without going into many details I would just state that for a player who was nothing as recent as 1998 was ranked No5 in under – 18 nationally in the year 2000, that too with a string of injuries, she participated in very few select tournaments than her rivals. Then getting a lucrative college scholarship in the US to get educated and play tennis without spending a penny from the pocket is in itself an achievement, probably it would have cost her parents anywhere between 30 to 50 lacks if they would have paid for it. Now is it not an achievement for an Indian coach to train a player at Rs 500 per month (that is around 12 US$ - though it's a different story that her training cost was subsidized by my academy) and make her an International Player? If you go through her performances listed on the net She has the best Win-Loss record in the first year she landed in the US of A. Is that not an achievement for the Coach and Player? It is fact that when she was leaving for the US I had told her mother that a few more years in the circuit and she will do well to which I got an answer saying that Indian girls can never become tennis stars, Well that time I had told her mother that Sania's approach is good, she is very active on the ITF Tour irrespective of the results and it's a matter of time when she strikes it big, the lady laughed at me and asked me to keep on dreaming, well I kept on dreaming… so did Sania, Sania's dream came true its a matter of time when my dream will come true…. To see many Sania Mirza's on the tour. Well Sania too had an option to go for a US scholarship, but she went for the ITF circuit, the rest is history.
Is that not an achievement for the Indian Coach and Player?
what did sania did with indian coaches?
I would like to ask:
· Which foreign coach Sania was being trained by when she won the Junior Wimbledon / Afro Asian games? The performances that really propelled her to where she is today.
· How much did she pay the coaches who slogged out with her, did she even thank them and accept their contribution to her career, whenever she came to my academy I didn't charge her anything, the first time she trained under me was in 1995 and the last in summer of 2002, in fact the very first press note about her was written by me and distributed to local newspapers, I am aware that all the other coaches too who worked with her were paid peanuts.
· We can pay fabulous amounts to a "foreign coach" but when it comes to an Indian coach we try to be stingy and petty, why?
· We take the advice of a "foreign coach" as a gospel of God, but we shrug of an Indian, Why?
· Why don't people understand the financial dynamics involved, when you pay more than it translates into better facilities for the players, experienced and dedicated support staff in the academy / camp, the coach can afford to give personalized attention since he can limit his intake of players and concentrate on a select few.
· Are our Indian coaches provided with the facilities available abroad, in India I have seen so many Government facilities going waste and when government talks about private partnership then it makes it a business deal, then the whole concept gets diluted.
· Do we have a National Talent search policy? We reward performances but do we identify and nurture talent?
· Is the media proactive? Are the reporters who cover the event are having adequate knowledge about the sport? Recently I have come across many a pictures in a leading local daily where the player is hitting a forehand while the tagline said that the player is poised to hit a backhand and vice versa.
· Local events are never covered in depth by the local newspapers thereby depriving the local sportsmen from getting adequate exposure.
· If only it was not for Indian Coaches will Sania Mirza be a Sania Mirza. For your information Sania Mirza was recommended to GVK group for sponsorship by a Hyderabad coach. If GVK Group would not have sponsored Sania then we would have had no Sania Mirza, so many Sania's are languishing in this country.
So we all know that Sania Mirza has made it big, we accept her as a living legend, that's good, we glorify her when she performs and condemn her when she doesn't. Does the buck stop here? Can we live another twenty years for one more Sania Mirza to bring laurels to the country? Can we live hoping for a miracle to happen? Or should we make the making of a Sania Mirza a learning experience and try to churn out a Sania Mirza every year?
Where does all this leave us? Groping in the dark? It's high time we revamped our approach and accept / reward talent. Its high time we revamped our antiquated policies, high time our officials in power dumped the approach of British Raj which were formulated to suppress the Indian on the road, its high time that they accepted that WE the INDIANS are the reason that they are wherever they are.
look at her ranking aftr ONLY 6m of US traing
Well if you look at Sania's performances right from the time she made it big was patchy, some brilliant some shoddy, she was glorified – she was condemned, after a string of big performances I always feel that she and her family goes on the defensive, try to prepare her fans mentally for the worst, we hear about her injuries, pulling out of tournaments, and then we see her at media events, inaugurations and what not? Now if I analyze:
· Sania's game has many inherent weaknesses, the biggest is her serve which has let her down on many an occasions which I had tried to rectify during her many stints with me, , She had the habit of dropping her non-serving arm too early, meeting the ball very far away from her head and her body used to travel in a different direction rather than travelling in the direction of her serve to facilitate the proper weight transfer, unfortunately her parents were never ready to spent a few months on developing a technically better service motion, which is normally required to correct a major flaw in technique.
· She relies more on her forehand, especially cross-courts but you start rallying with her in mid court and take away her angles she lands in problem, check it out sometime, don't hit cross court take away her angles, be prepared to chase down every ball.
· Her Volley's lack the punch same goes for overheads too. Call her to the net send her back and you have a victory.
· I feel that after a string of good performances she loves basking in public glory as everyone but the good and bad are the two sides of a same coin…. The fear of falling down from the pedestal, the fear of ridicule that takes its toll… then we see shoddy performances, she reaches a bottom when she has nothing to lose, she had been ridiculed, condemned enough…. She has nothing to lose now…. The focus is only on tennis…. That's again we see some performances, it's a vicious cycle she is getting dragged into: So I guess the same happened during her stay in the US, she was far away from the Indian media and fans…. She had already stuck the rock bottom of her career, her Indian fans had already written her off, she had nothing to lose but just play tennis… which I guess she did, after that string of good performances which saw her climb to her career best she was awarded a hero's welcome back home… she shared the stage with Shahruk and Sachin…. But she pulled out of Sunfeast Open citing wrist injury, I am only speculating… probably she does have an injury, probably its her mind playing games with her, whatever I just wish her the best. Hope she has the courage to overcome her opponents and her inner demons. I have not studied her game much off late technically but I intend to do it now and write another article " My Advice to Sania ".
here people live in buckets..dream of oceans..
Probably my learned friend who is a Canadian Immigrant means to say that Indian's should not dream.
Well my Dear Friend all that I know is that a dream is a start, everything starts with a dream, then dream turns into a desire, desire into ambition, ambition into hard work, commitment, struggle…. And then when a little luck / timing is added to these ingredients…. History is rewritten…. Legends are born….
Well my learned friend do you know that you have to dream more when as you say "live in the buckets"…. People who live in these so called buckets…. Holes….. Wells…… dream more…. If you check the statistics buddy you will find people from these buckets…. Holes…. Wells…. Has achieved more, rewrote history and became legends than people who lived in Palaces… that's because these people living in buckets had a reason to dream…. To achieve…. And a burning desire to prove to people like you who would want to even control other dreams…. Condemn them for no fault of theirs….
Well for your information when I have to compare a Sania Mirza v/s a Nischela Reddy…. Sania lived in a bucket whereas Nischela in a palace, Sania had nothing to lose where as Nischela's every move was dictated by societal factors, Sania could go all out…. Nischela could not…. Sania became India's golden girl, Nischela didn't…. Sania became a legend…. Nischela is probably just happy with a free US scholarship and probably a green card tomorrow? Well India and the world will remember Sania Mirza forever while Nischela Reddy and You my Dear Friend will be lost in the mists of time.
to b tennis star one need money
Well my Dear Friend you are so correct on this, tennis is one the most expensive sports all over the world but then tennis is rewarding too, Indian tennis players suffer due to lack of funds because:
· The number game doesn't work out for the sports equipment companies go set aside big budgets for promotion at grass root level.
· The Indian mentality easily of accepting "foreign role model" over an Indian sport star, for example a Maria Sharapova endorsing a product will have a better visibility and sale than an Indian, so for these sports equipment manufacturing companies there is no immediate need to sponsor an Indian to promote their products. If only my countrymen had National Pride and reject our rivals then I am sure a lot of endorsement money will be made available for Indian Sports.
· There is hardly any assistance available to upcoming talented sportsmen from the government or from the corporate sector, that is because the Government funds are distributed at whim and wish of the concerned officials and the Corporate sector looks at immediate gains in terms of publicity, goodwill etc. Hence a talented sportsman is deprived of equal opportunity to develop.
· Our approach, attitude, policies are not conducive for nurturing talent, its only after someone has performed we have a lot of people coming up on the center stage to claim how well they had identified the talent years ago, how they were sure that one day that player / sportsman will perform – Hogwash… that's what I would say with my experience, it's a bitter reality which we need to accept, when a sports person is in a struggling phase he/she is rarely supported in reality. Many of the people I have come across think that you are not a successful tennis player till you win Wimbledon, really??? Wimbledon is the pinnacle, there are so many smaller milestones along the way to reach the pinnacle and I believe in celebrating every small victory along the way and make every defeat as a learning experience, as a director of the academy I had a tough time convincing the parents who wanted a title every time a player participated in a tournament, a quarter-final, a semi-final was never celebrated, always the approach was if you won then you played good – if you lost you played bad. I accept and believe that every sportsman has a potential, you can play bad and still win at the same time you can play good and still lose, and everything depends upon who is across the net. I always stressed upon performing up to one's potential. That reflects in my academy's slogan "Enhance your potential – Challenge your limits". To create future champions we need to accept that every victory is a small step towards that goal and should be celebrated and rewarded while every loss an invaluable experience that will help one become better to reach the pinnacle, to create one champion we need to nurture thousands of talented sportsmen.
· Now when I look at Indian tennis its near to impossible for many Indians to travel abroad to collect those valuable ITF points which can propel them in bigger league, but if only we had a lot of ITF tournaments right here in the country then it would give our players the much required breathing space, no doubt over the few years we have seen a few big names in the world coming to India thanks to some ATP/WTA events being conducted but who benefits the foreign players and the sponsors, how many Indian players get into the main draw? I feel one big event can translate into probably 20 or more tier 3/4/5 ITF tournaments, and then the Indian Players will have more opportunity to get in the main draw of these events and collect points and then again having a strong junior ITF circuit in India will definitely attract upcoming international players which in turn will give our players the much desired exposure and confidence. If I had a choice I will see that we have as many as 12 to 16 weeks of Junior ITF grade 3/4/5 Tour in India as well as WTA / Satellite events.
· It would give a big boost not only to tennis but every other sport if every single corporate in this country adopts a few upcoming players without a bias, initiate talent search programs, devote some of their real estate to develop academies and contribute to the sporting community.
· I want to see sportsmen at the helm of their associations; do we need a Sharad Pawar to head BCCI? Why not a Gavaskar or Kapil Dev? Who can understand the sport better than them? Why can't Vijay Amritraj or Ramesh Krishnan head AITA?
· Last but not the least I would want the local media playing an important proactive role in bringing the local sportsmen on center stage, I am sure that the local media both electronic and print can devote some space without thinking about the financials to highlight the local sportsmen. That will really give the exposure and motivation for all those who are still climbing up the ladder.
I hope my Dear Friend that answers most of your questions as well as others, I am not one of those who may just for the sake of a discussion may talk about a Sania Mirza or MS Dhoni but I truly believe that we INDIANS are no way inferior to our western counterparts, either sports or technology or engineering, We can be the best when provided with a conducive environment and support. I believe in finding solutions and not just resting upon someone's efforts. I am shortly coming up with a Sports Foundation through which I will be able to do my part, play my role. Educate people and nurture talent.