It takes about $75,000 to play the men's tour for a year. Add another $100,000 if you have a travelling coach. Throw in a physical trainer and the numbers just keep adding.
Somdev Devvarman is the only Indian player looking to make the transition into a man amongst the men on tour who has this kind of wherewithal. Devvarman had the choice of signing up with IMG, Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport and Leander Paes’ Leander Sport among others. He instead chose to go ahead with an unknown company called Mamba. And it appears he made the right choice.
According to its MD Lyn Ryman, Mamba is committed to ensuring that Devvarman gets the best possible facilities. “Ours is a business venture with a heart. For us its not about the dollar signs alone. We want to give Somdev a platform. The returns can come later," says Ryman. Devvarman already has the rare privilege for a struggling player to be assured a travelling coach for 30 of the 35 weeks he intends to play in 2009. There is also Jacek Wolicki who works on honing Devvarman's natural athleticism into an almost robotic endurance. Devvarman threw up a number of times while training with Andy Roddick early this winter but did not let up. "It was heartening to see him keeping up with Roddick. He also realised what needs to be done to be at that level," says Ryman who has worked with the ATP & WTA tours.
While sidestepping the politics of Indian tennis by not going with any Indian company, Devvarman has actually found a support staff that few players can hope for in their formative years. Corporate interest too is picking up vis-à-vis Devvarman. He has already been signed on as brand ambassador for Virginia National Bank given his goodwill in the region where he became arguably the greatest American collegiate player. "We want to build him as a brand. There is interest but we don't want to sell him short just yet," says Ryman. There's a lesson here for the Indian player management companies who treat their clients as commodities.