Legs. That's been the talking point since Davis Cuppers Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan caught the fans' fancy playing the Chennai Open. While Bhambri won his opener, Vardhan couldn't get past the first barrier; the consensus was that both needed to strengthen their legs. And when it comes to the gruelling professional tennis circuit, if one doesn't have the legs, there's no point thinking about a future.
If one watched Arjun Kadhe beat Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash 7-5, 6-4 to secure a semifinal berth in the Fenesta Open national tennis championship, one would agree that a big serve and a confident game are positives for the 18-year-old. But, it's refreshing to hear a teenager say that his focus is to strengthen his legs first.
"I train in Valencia for two months each year. The first thing we are taught there is to be physically fit. Tennis comes next. I've been lucky to have travelled a lot abroad to gain exposure. In Europe, tennis is based on fitness and if you don't have the legs, you can't really move," the boy from Pune states matter-of-factly. "I know my legs are weak compared to other parts of my body and that's what I emphasise on during off-court sessions."
Guided by Hemant Bendre back home, Kadhe's Spanish stints boost his morale. After all, when you get the chance to hit with David Ferrer, which aspiring star wouldn't be confident to take on the world!
With 2012 drawing to a close, the next season will see Kadhe try and make the difficult transition - from boy to man. With an off-season plan ready to help build lower-body strength, Kadhe is eager to up his ATP points. Currently 1410 on the ATP chart, he wants to play more ITF tournaments next year.
"My dream is to get on the Davis Cup team as soon as possible," Kadhe says. The one thing which takes you by surprise is Kadhe motivating himself after winning each point by calling out 'allez'. An Andy Roddick fan motivating himself in French? "The phrase motivates me. I don't say it consciously, it comes naturally," he laughs.