After four years of retirement as a professional tennis player, Somdev Devvarman is ready to return to the game – this time as a coach. The top ranked player in India is registered as a top performance professional at the Nensel Tennis Academy in Peine, Germany.
The 35-year-old former international No. 62 – Somdev will join the coaching staff alongside Sascha Nensel – former top 10 coach Julia Goerges and 2006 Australian Open semi-finalist Nicolas Kiefer – and strength coach Milos Galecic, who also coached Devvarman. He will be working closely with the Indians there – rising star Sumit Nagal, Karman Kaur Thandi, 22, who joined in November and Adil Kalyanpur, 20.
In this interview, Somdev explains why the training makes him happy and talks about how he will be offered similar roles in India.
What will be your role in this academy?
It will focus on more promising juniors; to guide them in transition from one to another …. My experience in Tour recently, playing in different situations and my experience with Indian players… all of that will be invaluable. For me, working with the most successful boys in coaching and passing on real training in Europe is important. I personslly will be spending a lot of time in Germany, and I think about equal time on the road too.
Will you work with the benefits of the Indians there, especially Nagal?
I will personally spend a lot of time with them and I would love to do that. I’ve already done a few weeks with Karman, so we get to know each other really well. With Sumit, our relationship backfired when I quit and he was kind enough to come in. We have been in contact for many years. The good thing here is that we can all work together as a team.
Has coaching always been the next step after quitting tennis?
It makes me happy. The people who trained me helped me to see the game in a different way. I always knew that sometimes I would shoot him. I have always believed that if you ask your player to give 100% then as a coach you cannot do the same. That’s why after tennis I felt like I needed to get away from the direct part of the game. And I will know when I start to miss it, start thinking about it more, watch the competitions more closely, have more conversations about new things happening in the game and things like that.
A little over a year ago that seed began to burn again. Also, when working with a player, you have invested well. You think about different ways you can benefit – be it diet, fitness or tennis. When I heard I started doing that, I knew I was ready to get involved more.
Do you believe that newly trained players entering training can better help the Indian ecosystem better?
Yes and no. There is a fine line there. In India when a game or tennis job is not where it needs to be, the business is doing very well. There is no question that when young coaches get into it; there are already many young coaches in it. It’s about whether young coaches get into it for the right reasons. There is a good line between running a financially successful institution and doing the right things to help players. Unfortunately, the two are not always in conflict. That’s when I believe we often lose a lot of coaches, and then we keep losing them.
I would love to see more coaches coaching a real game in India. The more Sumit and Karman get along with others, the better for us. More is needed than just saying that we need younger coaches. There needs to be a lot of motivation for the players and young coaches to do well and the old system that creates that motivation.