Tennis

Experience counts in Grand Slams, says Pierce

With a legend: Mary Pierce with the Indian juniors and, seated from left, Lucas Dubourg of French Tennis Federation, Davis Cup team captain Rohit Rajpal and vice-president of Oppo Sumit Walia.

With a legend: Mary Pierce with the Indian juniors and, seated from left, Lucas Dubourg of French Tennis Federation, Davis Cup team captain Rohit Rajpal and vice-president of Oppo Sumit Walia.  

‘Playing on clay helps youngsters develop physically, mentally, technically, tactically’

Mary Pierce was able to play her best tennis in Grand Slams early in her career, but emphasised that playing one’s best tennis in Grand Slams, was achieved mainly through experience.

“To feel at home in Grand Slams, you need the experience. You keep getting better each time. Everyone feels nervous the first time.

“To play your best in competition, you need the experience, the hard work and the ability to stay focused,’’ said Pierce, who interacted with the junior players and the media, during the Roland Garros junior wild card tennis event at the DLTA Complex on Tuesday.

Expressing happiness about being part of the promotion for clay court tennis, and Roland Garros, “the Mecca of clay court tennis’’, Pierce said she could not believe that it was already 20 years since she won the Roland Garros.

“When I won the first match on the centre court, it was an incredible experience. It was my first win on centre court.

“ I had a special feeling inside of me. I told myself, this could be the year for me. I didn’t tell that to anyone. I kept winning match by match, reached the final and my belief came true’’, recalled Pierce, who had to wait for six years to win Roland Garros, after having lost the final to Arantxa Sanchez in Paris in 1994, when she was 19.

Pierce said playing on clay developed the young players, “physically, mentally, technically and tactically.’’

Inspiring

She also observed that the juniors will be inspired and motivated while competing in the same tournament as the top stars of the game, and would learn a lot especially by watching the professionals practice.

Conceding that the game needed to be affordable to ensure the wide participation of people from different economic backgrounds, Pierce said she was lucky to have had a sponsor from the age of 13.

“We had a sponsor for three years when I was 13. We could live and eat. Train and travel for tournaments. I don’t think I could have made it without that support’’, said Pierce.

She also pointed out that once the players took care of the equipment and court, they could develop by playing even against the wall, as having coaches would require paying for them.

“Playing against the wall is really important. It has been lost with time’’, she remarked.

Noting that Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy had made it to the Roland Garros event in 2017 through the wild card series, Pierce wished that the current lot would work hard to emulate such an achievement.

“I have been to India a few times, and I know that there is talent in abundance in the country,’’ she said.

She highlighted the impact of players like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza on world tennis, and expressed her belief that Indian players could make a mark in singles on the Grand Slam stage.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 10:55:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/experience-counts-in-grand-slams-says-pierce/article30916144.ece

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