FIt's really rare to have a tennis coach from Europe come to India and then say something as startling as: "Indian juniors no longer need to go abroad in the early years. I think the facilities here are better than many training centres in Sweden."
Roland Hansson, 68, has been coaching for nearly half a century. He was incharge of junior development in Sweden when that country was churning out top players with monotonous regularity. Though, he does not like to take the names of Mats Wilander or Stefan Edberg "for others did more for them than me", the anecdotes he uncorks later along with the whiskey clearly illustrates a long-standing familiarity. Hansson, though, fondly claims Mikael Pernfors (highest ranking world no 10) and Anna Catarina Lindqvist (also world no 10) as his trainees. Hansson conducted an extended camp for the trainees of Team Tennis at the Siri Fort Complex and noticed that just like the rest of the world, even in India, "Parents are dreaming too much. They need to let the coach do his job instead of interfering. The best thing they can do is be nicer to their kids when they lose."
"Indian kids have sponsored equipment even as juniors. That's not the case in Europe. Even top juniors don't get free stuff," says Hansson, further elaborating how India is poised for tennis growth. "India was not central to the world economy earlier. But now it is. Investment-intensive sports like tennis can grow only when there is surplus money in the financial system."
Serving one in the cause of the national federation that's often at the receiving end for having zero vision of promoting the sport, Hansson cites the example of England. "They have been pouring millions of pounds into junior development but hardly any players are emerging. In my experience most good players are self-made and they come from smaller outposts not from cities."
The crucial stage in the development of a player according to Hansson is when, "he is not playing for the parents or the coach but for himself."