Leander Paes says creating champions is a dream he is nurturing for his second innings just like former India captain Rahul Dravid and badminton legend Pullela Gopichand have done over the years.
Set to retire after the 2020 season, Paes said national badminton coach Gopichand and Dravid, who mentors the U19 and India A sides, have set a benchmark in coaching. Gopichand gave India two Olympic medallists in Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu while Dravid has been mentoring the U19 and India A sides.
“The reinvention of oneself is important,” Paes said while talking on the sidelines of the Tata Open Maharashtra. “There is so much to do in the second innings. I don’t know if one can get it perfectly but now I want one of my athletes to win a Grand Slam and compete at the Olympics.”
He added: “If I look at some of past players of India who I have tremendous respect for, there are players like Rahul Dravid, Pullela Gopichand who have trained younger generation to the highest level.”
The veteran tennis star said called for structural changes in the sport. “We really need to reinvent tennis because competition for sport in India is huge now with all the leagues, not just IPL. Table tennis, boxing, wrestling, badminton, Kabaddi are becoming huge in our country,” Paes said.
“Tennis in India needs an energised injection to be infused. We need to attract lot more kids. Now days so many distractions are there for them and sport and tennis is a great way to channelise them,” he added.
Paes, the winner of eight men’s doubles Grand Slam trophies, partnering Australia’s Matthew Ebden, exited from the Tata Open on Thursday after defeat against Indian pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja.
“They were playing amazingly well with 85 per cent first serve win. That was unbelievable. They were on a roll, everything they touched turned into gold,” Paes said.