Misc Tennis

Ankit honours the memory of his father and basketball coach Rajesh Patel

Storm Sanders was Australia’s hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

Ankit Patel (second from left) with family, champion Tamanna Takoria and officials at the tennis tournament in memory of his father Rajesh Patel.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ankit Patel is one of the bright tennis coaches in the National Capital Region. A current member of the Indian team for Junior Davis Cup, Aarjun Pandit has been groomed by the 35-year-old Ankit.

Sandeepti Singh Rao is another player developed by Ankit. Tavish Pahwa, a talented under-14 player, is shaping up nicely under the tutelage of Ankit.

A great basketball coach, who had worked wonders with the Chhattisgarh women’s team, the late Rajesh Patel had pushed his son, Ankit from basketball into tennis. The senior Patel died while travelling from one national basketball tournament to another in 2018.

While the family runs a basketball coaching centre and grooms 120 girls at the Rajesh Patel Sports Complex in Bhilai, Ankit conducts a tennis tournament every year in the memory of his father.

“My dad was a one-man army. He was a basketball coach, fitness trainer, yoga teacher. He was also a math and commerce teacher. He had three degrees — M.A., M. Com and LLB. He was a gold medallist in basketball coaching at the NIS. His day started at 5 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m. From 2019 till date, the family is managing all the expenses of running the basketball academy. My mother Anita and brother Rohit take care of the centre,” said Ankit.

Hundreds of girls were trained by Rajesh over two decades, and many made a career at the national and international level.

“My wife Mridula was trained by my dad. She played in the Asian under-18 championship. Like all his students, she was also attached to him. She was the one who gave me the idea to do a memorial tournament,” said Ankit.

The games may be different, but Ankit has grasped the good points from his father to be an efficient and successful coach.

“My father did not believe in the old military style of coaching. He was more friends with the players and helped them to play their best, giving them conviction in the method. He always emphasises on discipline, dedication, hard work, self belief and good attitude. He demanded 100% concentration on court,” observed Ankit.

The good work of Rajesh continues in Bhilai. Last year D. Kirti played in the Asian under-18 championship. Moni Adla played in the Asian under-16 championship in Jordan.

Ankit not only coaches talented players, he also competes in the ITF Masters circuit, making it to the…

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