Use tennis as a vehicle to make your students good human beings: Leander Paes to Coaches

Leander Paes at the press conference of Premier Tennis LeagueNew Delhi: Week two of the Education Webinar for Coaches, jointly organised by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), started with 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes making a guest appearance and sharing his wealth of knowledge, which spreads across three decades on the professional circuit, with the hundreds AITA registered coaches and tennis experts in attendance.

India’s most decorated tennis player with an Olympic Bronze medal to his credit, Paes began his talk with a special mention to the SAI AITA’s Coach’s Education Program. “What you all are doing is very special,” said Paes.

Paes went on and spoke at length on various topics covering his junior days, the transition from juniors to Men’s Circuit, the role mental fitness plays in tennis, dealing with pressure, nutritional knowledge, his plans of taking his own knowledge pool to the schools and giving back, tips to coaches...and also spilled the beans on how his mother is still complaining to him for ruining the non-stick frying pan when he did the “no-look-volley challenge” with it.

“It is important to focus on learning new skills during the lockdown”, Paes said on how to best utilise this time  away from tennis action and keep yourself active and mentally fit. On being asked about that one thing that keeps him going even at this age, Paes shared, “For me, the relationships that I have had through tennis are the things that I cherish the most. Those relationships over generations are what’s special. He was generous in recalling old relationships and had very special words for RK Khanna and Anil Khanna. “When I started playing tennis, Mr RK Khanna was the President of the AITA. I would not be who I am today without Mr. Khanna because he actually helped me in the Juniors, as a 14 or 15 year-old. He helped me get into the ITF Junior team. At that point, my family could not afford all the international coaching. And then after that Mr. Anil Khanna who was the President, took over the mantle of support.”

He also took the opportunity to thank others including Bishwadeep, AITA CEO for having been there over the last two decades in Davis Cup ties that Leander had played, always being there to give support. It’s the relationships that I share around the world, is what keeps me going”.

The opening guest session was followed up by Ms. Shiny Surendran’s Coach’s lesson of the day on Nutrition. Paes sat through the entire session and discussed a couple of key points with Surendran on metabolism as well.

Paes signed off from the Webinar with a message to Coaches saying, “Greatest joy you can have is to see your students do well at tennis. Use the sport as a vehicle to make them good human beings.”