SPORT

From one ace to another

NUMERO UNOS: Indian race car driver Narain Karthikeyan (right) knows a thing or two about positioning the steering wheel while negotiating a corner on the race track, but when it comes to tennis, he gets a lesson from Leander Paes. — Photo: M. Moorthy

NUMERO UNOS: Indian race car driver Narain Karthikeyan (right) knows a thing or two about positioning the steering wheel while negotiating a corner on the race track, but when it comes to tennis, he gets a lesson from Leander Paes. — Photo: M. Moorthy  

CHENNAI JAN. 3. It was a classic case of one ace sportsman teaching the nuances of his trade to another. Chatting with race ace Narain Karthikeyan at a shopping complex recently, Leander Paes had apparently told him that he would teach him some strokes "when we meet at the stadium.''

And they did meet, at one of the outside courts. Playing after a long, long time, Narain was content to just keep the ball in court. The two well-known Indian sportsmen did enjoy each other's presence, even as they cracked jokes and pulled each other's legs.

Coaching Canas

Hernan Gumy is an imposing figure. But as you move cautiously towards him, and make an effort to talk, he greets you with a toothy smile. Standing above 6 feet tall, the Argentine, top-seeded Guillermo Canas' coach is very much a quiet and private man.

Talking to The Hindu on one of the outside courts of the Nungambakkam Stadium on Friday, he opens up, "It is an honour to work with Canas. My job is to keep him calm. It is different and challenging. I am learning everyday."

It was in April last year that the two started the successful partnership, the year which Canas had a good run, winning the Tata Open and reaching the final in Casablanca before losing to EL Aynaoui.

"At this level you cannot change the game of professional players much," says the Argentine who played pro tennis from 1991 to 2001.

How difficult is the job of coaching a top player like Canas who has travelled widely and knows much more than him? "The coach does not need to be a genius. He just has to understand the player, and communicate to the player what he thinks. Communication is the key," he insists.

Watching the quarterfinal match between Canas and Karol Kucera (Canas lost in straight sets) from the VIP Stand, Gumy must have thought to himself, "we learn everyday and learn more from defeats."

Memorable time for kids

On the opening day of the Nike Junior three-day tennis clinic at the Nungambakkam Stadium, Mose Navarra of Italy, doubles finalist of the Gold Flake Open 2000, coached around 35 students of the city. As he guides some kids to play their shots, he insists on one point, "You got to know where you put the ball." Later, grasscourt men's and women's champion Manoj Mahadevan and Sai Jayalakshmy practice with the kids. So does current National hardcourt champion Vinod Sridhar.

Award for Isha

One of the most exciting and successful juniors in the country, Isha Lakhani, was given `the Daikin most promising junior player award' on the centre court on Friday. Reacting to the felicitation, Isha said, "I am very happy to get the award. I would like to thank IMG and Daikin."

"I want to be the top woman professional in the world," says Isha, who will be playing in the Australian junior open.

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