Swedish coach Ekersund impressed with junior talent
By Express News Service - CHENNAI
29th September 2012 11:02 AM
Never judge a book by its cover, so they say. And never judge a Swede on first impressions, so many of these books will tell you. Henrik Ekersund, the Swede, who has been supervising the junior tennis players in the country, is a perfect approbation to this axiom.
He isn’t the fussy mentor, neither particularly articulate nor excessively expressive. His amber eyes are a touch weary and skin uniformly tanned. Instructions to his wards are almost apologetically dispensed with. But whatever he imparts, he does with a fair degree of conviction. He belongs to the tribe of quality coaches who haven’t pursued the game at the highest level. He doesn’t reckon it as a must to be a coach.
“Look at Toni Nadal. He didn’t have any experience as a player and before coaching Rafael, his coaching credentials were unknown. But importantly, he provided Rafa with the right environment and support. That’s something I advocate to coaches wherever I go that they should provide the right atmosphere for the players to develop and make the transition,” he said. After four frenetic months, spent acquainting with the vast breadth of the country, he is positive about the Indian juniors.
“I am impressed with these youngsters. They are keen to learn and disciplined. India is heading in the right direction. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s too much of a difference between the kids here and in Europe,” opined Ekersund, who has mentored among many Robin Soderling, Ervin Eleskovic, Carl Bergman, Daniel Kumlin and Markus Eriksson.
He doesn’t buy the argument that Indian players lack the musculature to evolve as quality players. “What they need right now is a long term player development programme in various categories. Their aim should be for the next Olympics and future Grand Slams,” he said.
The 38-year-old urged the coaches to blend theoretical knowledge with hard work. “Spain, France, Russia and the former Yugoslavia are the power centres of the game now. The reason they are doing good is their focus on coaching and coaches’ education. Their theoretical knowledge is solid, apart from their hard work off the court,” he said. Based in Delhi, his two-and-a-half year contract extends till October 2014. Ekersund will be imparting training to the promising TN players for the next 10 days.
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