Hemant Bendrey, the man behind India’s rising Fed Cup stars Ankita and Rutuja
The coach continues his sessions with Pune’s proud tennis prodigies at PYC Hindu Gymkhana tennis court even as coronavirus may have grounded all sport.Updated: Mar 20, 2020 16:46 IST
PUNE An empty PYC Hindu Gymkhana tennis court in the morning is not a regular a scene. Covid-19 (coronavirus) has silenced the courts.
For Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale, practice continues, virus or no virus.
Raina and Bhosale are Pune’s proud tennis prodigies, part of India’s women’s Federation Cup team that made history recently, qualifying for the World Group playoffs. For the first time.
Corona may have grounded all sport for how, but for coach Hemant Bendrey and his tennis big-hitters, Raina and Bhosale, staying on point is all about practice.
Entry is restricted at the Deccan Gym courts and Raina, Bhosale, Bendrey and Arjun Kadhe are the only ones present. One less that the gathering of numbers banned by the Pune district administration – five.
“Having Sania Mirza in the doubles team made a big difference. India has always been doing well in singles,” says Bendrey, looking back at the Fed Cup.
Raina and Bhosale have stuck with Bendrey since the start of their careers and it is yielding positive results. Raina and Bhosale are currently ranked 163 and 438, respectively, in singles.
“Ankita has always done well in the Fed Cup, but this time she had players around her which made the difference. Rutuja is finally fully fit after having two unlucky seasons, where she could not play tennis for 32 weeks,” explains Bendrey.
Doubles – the winner
Along with playing singles Raina and Bhosale has focussed on playing doubles and both have had good results in the last one-and-a-half year.
“I always feel playing doubles helps you to improve your singles game. Doubles helps you improve returns, volleys, angles, so all age group players should play doubles,” says Raina.
Workload and adaptability
Bendrey believes that the player who is good at managing a workload and adapting to different surfaces will excel much faster in women’s pro tennis.
“Besides the top 10-15 players, most have the same types of skills, but managing travelling for 30 weeks, makes a big difference. Maintaining one’s fitness is also very important factor,” said Bendrey.
Need for power game
Pune has always produced good players between the ages of 16-21, but very excel beyond.
“Most coaches don’t look at the bigger picture and they are happy with what their players achieving at the junior level, but they should focus on increasing the power of hitting abilities,” says Bendrey.
“Allow players to hit with power whether they make mistakes or not should… I did the same with Ankita since the age of 14. Chinese players have same body structure like us, but they have more power as their coaches always advise them to hit with power. It makes lot of difference,” adds Bendrey.
Fed Cup performances of Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale
China bt India 3-0
Shuai Zhang bt Rutuja Bhosale 6-4, 6-2
Qiang Wang bt Ankita Raina 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
India bt Chinese Taipei 2-1
Rutuja Bhosale bt Ya Yi Yang 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6)
Enshuo Liang bt Ankita Raina 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina bt Latisha Chan and En Shuo Liang 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
India bt Indonesia 2-1
Priska Madelyn Nugroho bt Rutuja Bhosale 6-3, 6-0, 6-3
Ankita Raina bt Aldila Sutjiadi 6-3, 6-3
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina bt Priska Madelyn Nugroho and Aldila Sutjiadi 7-6 (7-4), 6-0
India bt Korea 2-1
Rutuja Bhosale bt Su Jeong Jang 7-5, 6-4
Na-Lae Han bt Ankita Raina 6-4, 6-0
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina bt Na-Lae Han and Na Ri Kim 6-4, 6-4
India bt Uzbekistan 3-0
Rutuja Bhosale bt Akgul Amanmuradova 2-6, 6-2, 7-5
Ankita Raina bt Sabina Sharipova 7-5, 6-1
Sowajanya Bavisetti and Riya Bhatia bt Yasmina Karimjanova and Sitora Normuradova 6-3, 6-1
Keeping Rutuja injury-free is the most important thing going forward. She has a very good game and if she manages to stay fit she will definitely move in top 200. One physio is travelling with her for the last few months and is helping her to recover after matches.
Ankita does not get tired travelling. She has managed to play 30-32 weeks of tennis. She is delivering very good results since last November. Players get lot of help if someone is travelling with them.