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Tennis coach Jignesh Raval revisits his passage to excellence

Tennis coach Jignesh Raval revisits his passage to excellence

Jignesh Raval is one of the best tennis coaches in the country. The last two national women’s champions Zeel Desai and Vaidehi Chaudhari have come from his stable in Ahmedabad. In fact, he has trained them from the age of 10 and 11 respectively.

A soft-spoken coach, with a tough streak when it comes to moulding players, Jignesh has had a rich experience grooming a lot of players with missionary zeal.

As we interact with him at his home and the many tennis centres in Ahmedabad, including the state-of-the-art facility Altevol Academy, run with German collaboration along side Alexander Waske, Jignesh reveals his passage to excellence.

What strikes most is the fact that he has given up on a rewarding career in the UK, USA and Canada, where he had a chance to live the rest of his life, teaching tennis. He chose to be back home after fruitful stints in all those countries, using the experience to put a system in place in India.

A national-level player, who represented the Gujarat University, Jignesh had started as a tennis coach at the Ahmedabad City Foundation before moving to the tennis-rich nations for invaluable experience — at Camp Robin Hood, Van der Meer Centre, and working for David Lloyd at the Country Club near Wimbledon, apart from Bobby Mahal in Canada.

First Indian coach

“I was the first Indian coach at Camp Robin Hood. There have been nearly 50 Indian coaches there so far,” said Jignesh, with understandable pride.

What helped him gain immense experience within a few years of international stint was his devotion to the job.

“I worked way too hard in those days. Was working for 12 hours day, and it was quite normal to go the full year without a single day off”, he said.

Yet, when he set up a system in Ahmedabad, he ensured that the coaches were not over-worked.

“The first big step in Ahmedabad was private land and private resources for tennis. We started in 2011 with three tennis courts. Then, it increased to seven in the second phase. The Ahmedabad Racquets Academy (ARA) was originally planned to have 22 tennis courts. Then, the plan changed as a football field took away space,” recalled Jignesh.

“We had a standard teaching method (STM). And as per the PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) system, we had all the coaches looking the same, with a dress code, and we also had weekly plan for training,” he said.

Code of ethics

That apart, there was code of ethics for the coaches about how they interact with the players.


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