Young players need expert coaches to rise in international level: Mahesh Bhupathi
Former India Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi on Friday said young players in the country needed expert coaches to guide them to perform better at the international level.
“Across India there is a lot of talent, but there is lack of expertise when it comes to coaching and proper guidance which prevents them from doing well at the international level,” Bhupathi said at an Aspire High Performance Tennis Programme in Chennai.
“I have seen this journey play out over the years. There’s never been any doubt in anyone’s mind about it.” He recalled that there were several players who were in top five in the rankings at junior level in the 1990s, but could not go on to do bigger things because they were not able to get proper guidance.
“I can tell you at the junior level, Sandeep (Kirtane), Nitin (Kirtane), Rohit Reddy and others were all top five in juniors, but they were not able to do well in the men’s seniors as they were not able to get the right guidance,” he added.
The 45-year-old Bhupathi also said that Chennai has always been a hotbed for tennis with stalwart families like the Krishnans and Amritrajs.
Heaping praise on Sumit Nagal, who has risen to 130 in the ATP rankings on the back of an impressive 2019 and qualifying for the US Open main draw where he lost to the legendary Roger Federer, Bhupathi said everyone was excited because he took a set (off Federer).
“My journey stared with Sumit when he was 10 or 11. He has improved a lot. As Somdev (Devvarman) said we are all excited after his taking a set off Roger Federer. We will remember him for more than that,” Bhupathi said.
Asked about the controversy surrounding his exit as non-playing captain of the Davis Cup team, he said he had not heard from the AITA.
“I haven’t actually got any word (on him getting removed as non-playing captain). I was just told the day before they announced Rohit (Rajpal) that they would pick him, because I wasn’t comfortable going to Islamabad and he is. That’s all I’ve heard so far,” he said.
Asked why Indian tennis mostly hits the headlines especially before the Olympics, Bhupathi said: “I think you guys (journalists) don’t pick the right headlines, honestly. Because, Sumit (Nagal) made headlines last year after he played Roger (Federer). That’s Indian tennis. Sania making a comeback is a headline. That’s Indian tennis.
“I think the Olympics gets sensationalised, and honestly this year there’s nothing exciting to look forward to the Olympics. Nobody has qualified yet. So, Olympics is not really relevant till Rohan (Bopanna), and Divij (Sharan), or whoever the doubles team is, actually qualifies,” he added.