HYDERABAD: It’s one thing to see your favourite stars on television, get inspired by them and carve out a dream of your own, based on their career. Many successful careers and dreams, after all, have been born out of watching others’ lives. But to actually meet your heroes, listen to them speak and even play with them, is an absolute privilege.
This is exactly what happened in the city on Wednesday, when a group of young, aspiring tennis players were treated to a masterclass by veteran tennis player, Martina Navratilova and Sania Mirza.
Navratilova, arguably the greatest female tennis players of all time, gave valuable tips to aspiring children and stressed on the importance of focus, determination and practice to succeed.
The 18-time Grand Slam Singles title winner told youngsters not to be bogged down by pressure, and embrace it instead.
“Pressure is a privilege. Try to focus on solutions and understand the movement. Always practice and strive to work hard. Practice for five hours a day,” advised Navratilova, at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy in Moinabad.
Navratilova, who was born in the erstwhile Czechoslovakia but is a longtime US citizen, emphasised the importance of training to the awe-struck children.
“When I was nine years old, I got a coach. It’s very important that you train by yourself and aim to get better. There’s nothing better than practising against the wall with a single ball and racquet,” shared the veteran player.
Martina, who has won a staggering 59 Grand Slam titles in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles during her illustrious career, also passed on some technical points to the young players – how they should position their elbow, the release point of the racquet while following through on the shot, how to execute volleys, etc.
Meanwhile, Indian tennis sensation and the recently crowned Wimbledon Champion in Women’s Doubles, Sania Mirza, also mentored the young and eager academy kids.
“It’s wonderful to have Martina here. It’s a dream for any athlete to be able to inspire young children and hopefully, in my 12-year-old long career, I did inspire at least one or two kids to pick up the racquet,” said Sania.
The children, on their part, were pleased as punch to be learning from the very best and soaked in almost every word shared by the tennis stars.
“It’s one thing to hear them tell you about how to play but to actually see them play in front of you is unbelievable. I would love to be like them,” quipped nine-year-old Tarun K.
Eight-year-old Vidya wants to represent India.
“I want to be a tennis player. But last week I was absent for many days,” says Vidya, her cute little eyes filled with guilt. When asked who her favourite player is, “Sania”, was the prompt response.
While Sania remains the ultimate idol for most of the young girls, many of the boys look up to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Apart from the masterclass, Sania and Martina also played a doubles match along with promising talent, 2014 WTA Future Stars U-16 champion Karman Kaur Thandi and Melissa Pine, WTA Finals Tournament Director.
Martina and Karman beat Sania and Melissa by 10-7 points.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner CV Anand also took some time out to visit the academy, and even indulged in a quick game of tennis with Sania Mirza.