‘No big difference between Indian junior players and Spanish players’

Nitin Sharma
Chimo Perez Roman (in white cap) and fellow coach and fitness trainer Manuel Maria Fernandez with players at CLTA in Sector 10, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. (Express photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

With nine players in the top 100 of the ATP Men's World Tour rankings, Spain is among one of the countries with more than eight players in the top 100 players in the world. On Tuesday, as Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association officials signed a five-year protocol with the Spanish Club Atletico Montemar, coach Chimo Perez Roman along with fellow coach and fitness trainer Manuel Maria Fernandez were busy in observing the CLTA trainees play their shot and discussing their techniques. Having coached 21 Spanish champions and two former top-100 ranked players Ruben Ramirez and Ivan Novarro, Roman knows a thing or two about the international circuit and was all praise for the Indian youngsters.

"There is no big difference between Indian junior players and Spanish players. On the technical front, the players are doing more than acceptable and we just found a few differences. For the players here, inpidual game plan it not defined as compared to what we do in Spain and the players play very freely. There is not much of difference in terms of fitness at this age but there is a slight difference in terms of technique and basics. CLTA are interested in adopting the European training programme and we hope this association will help them develop this aspect of the game," said Roman, who is the founder and general manager of Montemar Tennis Academy.

Situated in Alicante, Spain, Club Atletico Montemar (CAM) was formed in 1931 and the Montemar Tennis Academy was founded in 1994. The last two decades have seen Roman coaching players like Ramirez and Novarro, who reached career-high world rankings of 50 and 67 respectively. The five-year association between CAM and CLTA would see coaches from CAM visiting Chandigarh every year for a period of 10 days apart from four players from the Chandigarh Academy of Rural Tennis (CHART) programme of CLTA getting a chance to train at the Spanish club.

"In Spain, we focus a lot on fitness. Most of the courts in Spain are clay courts and the bounce of the ball is slow and higher and it makes the points longer. So the matches are a bit longer and it results in players getting fitter and also mentally strong. In India, players start playing in hard courts where the bounce is slower and ball speed is faster. So kids need time to play well behind the ball and to have control of the ball. In Spain, we have more than 10 professional tennis academies. Apart from that, we have more than 320 days of clear weather with an average temperature of 20 degree. It means that players can spend the whole day training. Also, we have almost 50 weeks of professional tennis circuit and players can travel to closer places and play in tournaments," Roman said.

Coach and trainer Manuel Maria Fernandez has also seen players like Ramirez and Novarro from close apart from spending time with current world number 237 Nicola Kuhn.

"Playing on clay courts gives you more chances in terms of tactics. The ball speed is not that fast and players can work out different angles and have more time to defend also apart from recovering. Ramirez and Novarro were eight-year-old when they came to train under us and they made their way to the top 100 in the world. It has been a motivation for us too and we expect the same from a player like Nicola Kuhn. He won the second round in ITF Chennai Challenger today and such things inspire us," Fernandez said.