“Sir, the steps have to be a bit swift and keep the fist of your hands very near to your face. Now, as we are running, keep on moving your fists in such a way like we are punching an opponent. One round of this will give us endurance as well as strength”, says the coach. The coach and his newly made friend keep on doing this while going for two rounds. After two rounds, the friend says, “Coach, I am tired! I need a water break”. The coach smilingly replies,”Ok Sir, Take the water Break”. The coach then moves towards the young kids who have come there to learn Lawn Tennis.
The morning temperature is quite pleasant and the ground adjacent to the Lawn Tennis courts is witness to a balanced mix of young boys and girls covering a good amount of age spectrum.”We will first do fitness. You all need to build up strength and good movement if you have to win in the real game”, says the coach to the children. Coach’s friend also joins the children for fitness drills. The ground is now full with colourful cones which are to act as marking for various drills. The groups are made and multiple drills are performed by the groups simultaneously. While one group is engaged in jumping the series of hurdles rapidly, the other group is moving between the cone markings to increase their foot movement. After the count of thirty, all are expected to rotate their positions.
First round of drills is complete.”Come on, One more round”, says the Coach. The group whispers,”Sir! We are tired”. Coach Says commandingly, “It is now the real game begins. Get back to your positions and let us complete it fast.”The second round gets over. The faces are grim, shirts are full of sweat and hands are on the waist.”Take a water break”, says the Coach while wrapping up the cones with the help of assistants. The friend of the coach is having his first dose of fitness and the face seems to tell it all. The coach comes to him and smiles, “Sir, How was it?” .The friend replies, “Amazing but a bit tiring”. The Coach says, “Don’t worry , Lawn tennis will be refreshing.”
The Coach blows the whistle. The group gets distributed over three lawn tennis courts present adjacent to each other. It is time for everyone to practice the fundamentals. The Coach puts a bucket of balls on a table placed on centre service line very near to the net and starts dropping the balls to the children one by one.”Forehand to your right , backhand to your left, come forward and finish the short ball”, says the Coach.All children are expected to hit these three balls as their turn comes. The speed of the ball is more than it would be in an actual game. It requires good amount of footwork as well as quick positioning to play the shots as desired. The feeding continues for five cycles. The balls are hit and balls are again pumped in. Now even the tennis seemed to give the pain. The friend calls for another water break. After the water break, some more practice continues on the lawn tennis court before the Coach finally blows the whistle and calls it a day.
The Coach now goes and sits on the chair next to his friend. The friend says, “Lawn tennis was refreshing but it did took out of me whatever was remaining in me after fitness.”The Coach laughs,”Sir, we will have a good breakfast at a shop nearby.”Both pack their bags and get onto the bike to leave for the nearby Tiffin shop. A healthy food in the form of Pesarattu, a south Indian dish, is ordered along with some Coffee to get the energy back. The friend says to the coach, “I have seen quite a few coaches but I don’t find them as enthusiastic and passionate you are. Also, your foot movement is absolutely stunning. You would have been a very good lawn tennis player in your time.”The Coach laughs, “Sir, I am a National Boxing Champion”. The friend is happy to know this but also confused. He asks, ”Then how come you are a coach for lawn tennis.”The Coach smiles but his eyes are now clearly looking in the past. He utters, “It is a long story, Sir.”.And just then, the breakfast arrives.
The Story will Continue in “The Boxing Ring : Bout Two”.