“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.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion shared his wealth of knowledge, which spreads across three decades on the professional circuit, with the hundreds of 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.
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, RK Khanna was the president of the AITA. I would not be who I am today without 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 Anil Khanna who was the President, took over the mantle of support,” the veteran player said.
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,” Paes said.
The opening guest session was followed up by 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.”
The Webinar, now in its second week, will have a session of “Coaching Young Children and Young People” by Kawaljeet Singh and Miguel Crespo from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) will join as the guest speaker.