Former India Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali, who represented the nation at the 1988 Olympics, is hoping to mould the next generation as he takes on the role of head coach at the National Tennis Centre (NTC) in New Delhi.
“I believe India has the capacity and capability to produce a whole load of top international players and even Grand Slam champions through this new initiative,” Zeeshan told Gulf News.
“These are very interesting times and I am excited to be part of this change that is taking place in Indian tennis. I am looking forward to doing my bit in producing the next generation of tennis champions from our country,” he added.
The centre is located at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association complex, Africa Avenue in the national capital and comprises of 13 courts, two gymnasiums, a swimming pool and a residential facility along with a kitchen and running track.
The preliminary NTC programme will get underway in April, including 100 per cent scholarship for 20 boys and as many girls. Moreover, the selected aspirants will have access to the entire facility.
National coach Zeeshan asserted that the facilities are in place and the standard of tennis in India will improve in the coming years.
“The facilities are amazing and the infrastructure is already in place and I am looking forward to starting the programme from the beginning of April,” Zeeshan said.
“I believe the standard of tennis in India will improve once things start to happen here. The process has already started as we had a three-week camp with 22 of the top junior boys from the beginning of January, and now a similar camp is starting for the girls from February 1. These camps also serve as a selection process for the NTC. There are a lot of ITF junior tournaments in India this year that will give our players a chance to accumulate ITF points and aim for junior slams.”
Zeeshan was ranked World No. 2 in ITF Juniors and No. 126 on the ATP Tour at the age of 18. He also bagged 14 ITF junior tournaments and reached the semi-finals of singles at Wimbledon juniors in 1986.
He, however, called time on his playing career in 1995 due to a back injury and since then has been involved in coaching.