Rohan Bopanna Academy excels in Nationals

Niki Poonacha may be the most prominent face of the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy, winning the national title for the second time, but the success for the academy has remarkably been across all levels.

“In all four finals in menโ€™s and womenโ€™s events, we had a presence and we won three titles. Earlier, Suhitha Maruri had won the under-16 girls title and finished runner-up in under-18,” said the chief coach of RBTA, M. Balachandran, as he summed up the academyโ€™s performance with satisfaction.

Niki had won the menโ€™s singles title and the doubles with SD Prajwal Dev. Qualifier Sharmada Balu who also coaches at the academy made the womenโ€™s final and won the doubles title with Sravya Shivani.

“We have a good team of coaches with us. It was gratifying to find Rohan and Sujith (Sachidanand) appreciating the efforts,” said Balachandran, who plays a stellar role in having a system in place.

Niki Poonacha looks to step it up in the international circuit

Balachandran travels with Prajnesh Gunneswaran and other players for international events and capitalises on the experience to tune players and coaches. He did about 37 sessions for the coaches right through the lockdown and afterwards, empowering them with knowledge. He followed that up with on-court training to lend clarity and purpose to their training methods that eventually help the players improve.

“Investing time in training coaches and trainers is the key. Easy to put up a tennis court or buy equipment,” he observed.

“All coaches work on similar lines. There is a structure in place, with coaches having a plan for each session with a focus on each playerโ€™s requirementsโ€™โ€™, he said.

Balachandran did expect Reshma Maruri in the girls under-18 section and Rethin Pranav in the boys under-14 event to make the finals. โ€˜โ€™Overall, it is very motivating for me and the coaches to have these results. All the coaches are fired up to help other players achieve similar results. This will also encourage other players in the academy to do well in future,” he said.

There is a lot of coordination between the coaches, physical trainers and players. “Fitness coaches and tennis coaches interact daily, and work with players to complement the work done on and off the court,” he said.

Apart from the leading players, Balachandran also pointed out that the focus would be to get the players aged 14, 15 “to be competitive in the under-18 ITF tournamentsโ€™โ€™.

With Rohan Bopanna playing an active role in the academy, and theย  Sports School providing the facilities, Balachandran feels that better support from sponsors for players could speed up their progress to match world standards.

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