SPORT

Mahal — the common thread in Nagal and Karman’s rise

Bobby Mahal feels that Karman Kaur Thandi needs to gain strength in her upper body and power in her legs to go up to the next level.

Bobby Mahal feels that Karman Kaur Thandi needs to gain strength in her upper body and power in her legs to go up to the next level.  

Sumit Nagal, the Wimbledon junior doubles champion, and Karman Kaur Thandi have made waves in recent times and have projected a positive image of the future of Indian tennis, with their exploits in the junior as well as professional circuit.

Apart from the fact that both hail from Delhi, coach Bobby Mahal, based in Toronto, has been a common factor with his astute guidance to the two best juniors of the country, albeit with varying degrees of intensity.

Of course, multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi has been supporting Nagal for the last seven years, and has recently signed up the 17-year-old Karman for his International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

Mahal, who had gauged the Karman’s potential way back in 2010, said that he was not surprised with her recent results in the US Open where she made the third round of juniors, and also the professional circuit in which she has been breaking into the main draw of $50,000 events.

“Karman is definitely a top-100 potential. With her height, a big serve and a strong forehand, she is like Maria Sharapova. She has a skinny frame. She needs to gain strength in her upper body and power in her legs.

“Physical fitness and mental toughness are the areas that she has to develop to realise her potential,” said Bobby from Toronto, minutes before Karman’s second round match against the top seed in the $50,000 ITF women’s event.

The 40-year-old Bobby, who has been blessed with a second daughter a few days back, has been associated with Sumit for about six years, right from the time he was drafted into the Apollo Tyres Grand Slam scheme in 2008, with his Progressive Tennis idea.

Having been a player himself, and competed in the NCAA first division for the University of California for four years before a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery cut short his career, Bobby has been trying his best to help in the development of young players.

He had also worked in TV production for about five years, working in major production of sports like NBA and NFL, before he took up a coaching stint with Tennis Canada.

Once the Apollo Tyres scheme closed in 2010, Bobby moved back to Canada with Sumit and spent all his time, energy and a lot of money, to help in his growth as an all-round player.

Last year, it was decided to send Sumit to the Schuettler Waske Tennis-University in Germany.

“It was great six years. I did everything I could to make him a better player and better person. At some point, all coaching relationships come to an end. He needed a fresh start with another voice and I think they have done a great job in Germany of getting him to the next level,” said Bobby, about Sumit, who has been winning a series of titles in the $10,000 ITF men’s Futures circuit.

Bobby has a very good sports system in Toronto, and has put a team of physio, nutritionist etc. for Karman to train well and compete hard during her stint there.

He believes in head, heart and legs theory, to make it to the highest level of the game. He pleads that the all-round development of a player be addressed right from the start, to have a complete player, person. “Don’t get too bogged with kids on just technique. You need to address all components, otherwise, down the road, you may have a player with great strokes who doesn’t know how to win, or doesn’t have an athletic base,” he added.



At some point, all coaching relationships come to an end. He needed a fresh start with another voice and I think they have done a great job in Germany of getting him to the next level

— Bobby Mahalon parting ways with Sumit Nagal

after a six-year collaboration





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