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TENNIS | I am here to get the kids to the next level, says SDAT’s High Performance Director Sanjai

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.

Sanjai Sundaram, SDAT’s High Performance coach for tennis.
| Photo Credit: K. Keerthivasan

An Overseas Citizen of India, Sanjai Sundaram is crystal clear in his role and goal as High Performance Coach for tennis. Appointed by Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) on an 11-month contract, Sanjai, born to parents hailing from Tamil Nadu, is eager to make the kids aged u-12 and u-14 raise their standards.

“I am here to get the kids to the next level. That is to take them to the National-level and then make them succeed at the international level,” the 66-year-old Sanjai told The Hindu here on Saturday.

In fact, his first job after taking up the assignment, was to have a discussion with SDAT coaches from the districts. “I have to make sure that kids have the right path to follow. First thing I did was organise a workshop for SDAT coaches.

“We discussed everything from on-court to off-court. All coaches are good. It’s just a question of mindset and the details of how to develop the kids physically and raise their skill level. If we follow the process, slowly and surely, we will have the singles players,” he said.

Sanjai will visit the tennis centres of Tiruchi, Cuddalore, Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli in SDAT’s quest to set up a sports hostel for tennis players in Chennai soon.

“I will be visiting the SDAT centres in districts. In a matter of few months, we will have a sports hostel with the best of talents. It will be on the lines of Britannia Amritraj Trust (BAT),” said Sanjai, who has worked extensively with private tennis academies in New York and New Jersey.

Sanjai said he will follow the method of Richards Williams — the father of former World No. 1 singles players Serena and Venus. “I will basically follow the Richards Williams formula of not focussing too much on juniors and the accompanying results. Italy’s Jannik Sinner’s success (he is currently World ranked 4) is because he believed and invested in his game and not worry too much on the results.

“That’s why in a matter of 18 months, he improved his world rankings from 1583 to the top 100,” said Sanjai, who quit his job in Air Force (New Delhi) to pursue his coaching ambitions.

With the full support of SDAT, Sanjai is confident of realising his ambition of “putting in place a proper system.”

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