Australian coach finds ingenious way to promote tennis
NEERAJ CHANDRA ROY
KATHMANDU, Jan 11: Dragged by his desire to see the world´s highest peak, former Australian tennis umpire Doug Grant has made regular visits to Nepal over the last six years and now wants to promote tennis in the Himalayan nation.
The 55-year-old Australian visited different parts of the country with his portable net over the last 10 days to demonstrate tennis skills, which he believes will inspire the locals to take up rackets and try their hands at a game they had never played before.
When asked how his short lessons would benefit Nepali tennis in the long run, Grant says the basic idea of his demonstration is to rouse interest among the people.
“People won´t be interested unless and until you hand them the rackets and let them play the game. When you start playing, others are going to join. When you hit (the ball) everybody wants to hit,” says Grant.
His ingenious ideas have made immediate impacts.
Grant says that some schools in Chitwan and Pokhara have shown keen interest in introducing tennis and have inquired where they could find the nets and rackets.
“Things can change now,” says Grant about Nepali tennis, which is basically confined to the elites of the capital.
Doug Grant (Photo: Bikash Karki)
Grant, who says he has been involved in tennis for the past 40 years ever since making his debut as an Australian Open umpire at the age of 15, plans to work in coordination with the All Nepal Lawn Tennis Association (ANLTA) to impart his knowledge to the folks who are in the dark about the game which is popular back in his homeland.
Grant says he made his way to the Australian circuit as a player in a bizarre fashion three years after becoming an umpire.
“I came in the back way. I was umpire first and then player,” says Grant.
“I was the youngest Australian umpire. I went through everything from coaching to photography and I was even a ball boy. I´ve done all these jobs,” he added.
“I did better with teachings,” he said.
Grant says he noticed a massive difference between Australian and Nepali tennis. There are more than 6000 tennis courts in Australia and everybody in keen on playing the game but he found very few courts here. However, he says lack of infrastructure is not a deterrent in learning tennis. He believes that passion for the game is what counts more.
“You need enthusiasm for the game. I can play tennis anywhere, there is no need for a proper court,” said Doug, adding, “The concept of street tennis in fast catching up these days.”
Grant says that he went everywhere from the Alps in Europe to the Rocky mountains of America but it was Everest that captivated his attention. The Australian local champion, who wraps up his journey to Nepal on Jan 13, plans to return here every year and coach the locals free of cost.
On Wednesday, he gave some lessons to the players of the U-14 national team, who are gearing up for the ITF Asia 14&U Development Championships 2013 - Division 2 to be held in Vietnam from Jan 14-25.
ANLTA President Manoj Rana says that Grant is quite a knowledgeable person regarding tennis and that the governing body of Nepali tennis would be looking forward to joining hands with the Australian.