At first glance Virendra Sharma’s boyish looks may lead you into thinking he is a student. It is only when a bunch of boys with tennis racquets in hands surround him that you realise Sharma is their teacher.
At 22, Sharma has mastered the nuances of serve, volley and return and is imparting his knowledge to about 15 students at the DDA sports complex, Pitampura. Employed by the Peninsula Tennis Academy as faculty, Sharma is four years old into his profession.
A native of Sikar, Rajasthan, Sharma’s love for tennis began early. “ I started by playing tennis as a hobby during school. Gradually it turned into my biggest passion.”
The son of a government servant father and homemaker mom lost both his parents during childhood. With their demise, his dreams of turning pro also vanished in thin air. That is why, to make ends meet, Sharma decided to earn a living giving tennis lessons.
These days Sharma works at the DDA sports complex on a contractual basis. “The hiring of tennis coaches is contractual and depends upon the number of students at a sports complex.” Sharma makes about Rs 7,000 per month from his tennis lessons. Plus, he gets one fourth of the prize money if his students win a tournament.
While tennis is his biggest priority, studies take the second spot. After a gap of four years, he is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Amravati University through correspondence. After coaching for three hours in the evening, Sharma catches up with his academics.
His students range from 4 year olds to teenagers on the verge of turning professionals.
Two of his wards are preparing to participate in Delhi state tennis tournaments. Abhishek, 16, one of his students, says Sharma drives his students to excellence. “He makes us work out and put our best step forward.” The daily physical regimen of a tennis aspirant includes jogging for 45 minutes, stretching for another 15 and practicing their service and backhands for close to an hour.
Although he has sacrificed his personal ambitions at the altar of coaching, Sharma hopes to return to the circuit one day.