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Women warm up to coaching

sports Updated: May 25, 2012 01:17 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri

Play tennis, get a scholarship to the US of A and settle on foreign shores. Or after playing the sport for years, quit and try one's hand at other things. This was the scenario for Indian women's tennis players even 10 years back. "We never even had a women's tennis coach when we were playing," claimed former Fed Cup player Shruti Dhawan.

After quitting the sport in 2005, the 30-year-old decided to take baby steps into the big world of coaching four weeks back. Going by statistics, the ratio of women's coaches to men is approximately 1:32. However, former women's players are today taking up on the option of coaching which their male counterparts have been doing for years.

After quitting the sport to try her hand at something other than tennis Radhika Tulpule Kanitkar soon realized coaching is where her calling lay.

"It's the best way to stay connected with tennis," the only woman ITF level 3 coach in the country claimed. Kanitkar will be traveling with 16-year-old Rutuja Bhosale, the current national champion, to the French Open next week.

"Being a former player certainly helps in coaching. Having been through the ups and downs of the tour, we have better understanding of pressure situations," the former Fed Cupper said.

Shruti seconded the thought. "The physical aspect of the game aside, we know how the game affects players mentally. Since we've been through it, it's easier for us to explain to our players how to deal with such situations," Shruti added. Based in Chandigarh, Shruti is looking after Natasha Palha's game.

And these two aren't the only former players to have turned coaches. Doha Asian Games silver medalist Isha Lakhani has recently tried her hand at coaching.

ITF level 2 coaches Shalini Thakur Chawla in Delhi and Archana Venkatraman in Bangalore has been on the other side of the fence for some years now.