Tennis

Tennis has become very physical, says Asif Ismail

Reunion: Asif Ismail, right, greets Rajeev Naidu.

Reunion: Asif Ismail, right, greets Rajeev Naidu.  

Former National champion back on familiar terrain.

For former National champion Asif Ismail, it was time to catch up with old friends.

“I am coming to the DLTA after nearly two decades. There is a big change in the infrastructure. I remember the lawns, where a big building is standing now. It looks so different,” said Asif, who has settled at a sports centre in Hong Kong with his family. Apart from India, he also played Davis Cup for Hong Kong.

Quite pleased to get a memento from the organisers of the Fenesta National championship who are celebrating 25 years of their association with Indian tennis by hosting the premier event, Asif said it was a “great gesture.”

Asif missed a chance to meet fellow champions as he was busy visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday when more than a dozen champions were felicitated at the DLTA by the DCM Shriram Group.

Monotonous

“Tennis has become very difficult. It has become physical and monotonous. The kids better focus on education and keep playing till they manage to stay in the game,” said Asif.

Recalling the good time he had had while laying the foundation for his career at the Britannia Amritraj Tennis (BAT) Academy in Chennai, Asif revealed that the key to success was the eight best players in the country training together with the best possible guidance.

“It was the first such centre in the region. The others started after seeing the success of BAT,” said Asif. “There was discipline and we did not have any distraction. There were no mobile phones then,” said Asif, who was happy to meet his friends Manoj Kumar and Rajeev Naidu who coach in Tamil Nadu. He immediately broke into smooth Tamil while greeting them, thanks to his long stay in Chennai.

He conceded that the game had become a lot commercial, and that he was seeing more coaches than players.

The Wall coach

Asif stressed that there was no better coach than a wall.

“You play the wall which does not miss. There is no better coach than it. I don’t see players picking up a bucket and doing the serve these days. We had better serve because we practised so much. If you work on your volleys and bring new dimensions to your game, you have a better chance,” said Asif, who had lost the National grass court final to Mahesh Bhupathi in 1994 at Chandigarh.

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Printable version | Mar 24, 2020 12:57:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/tennis-has-become-very-physical-says-asif-ismail/article29577254.ece

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