We sat down for a chat with Anjali Parikh, founder and CEO of IAP Management & Consulting, a Sports, Education, Athlete Company, that is making training at top academies in Europe possible for young Indian players.
Tennis player management and leading them to professional tennis is at the core of the company’s mission. Another mission is to help athletes get recruited and receive athletic scholarships to play their sport at universities in the United States, prepare them for undergraduate degrees, and lead them to professional career paths. With their unique hands-on process they guide athletes though each step with recruiting education, player development, academic competence and recruiting process while maximizing their exposure to college coaches with trusted teams.
They’ve come up with a Mouratoglou-IAP Tournaments Tour that is going to take place soon. She talks about the tour, role of Patrick Mouratoglou, and International Athletic Pathways in general.
Q) What is IAP?
IAP stands for International Athletic Pathways. When we chose this name way back in 2014, there was a lot of thought put behind it.
“International” because we want players to have a global mindset. “Athletic” because we intend to be in the larger spectrum of sports to play varsity sports in USA Colleges, offering athletic recruitment. Athlete is the base of any sport. A tennis player or a squash player needs to be an athlete first, and then be a tennis player or a squash player. “Pathway” means showing the right path at the right age and at the right time. The growth elements in an individual athlete need to be identified through a customised program based on the player’s personal background, parental background, genetics, talent, ambition, academic competence and their financial resources.
To lead to a profession path, a junior needs to have the right team around him/her all the time with solid early years foundations. Team IAP works closely with the players coaches, parents, family of a player to provide them the necessary support and work as a team. Consistency of the right teams is very important for the specific purpose. That is where our IAP Management and Consulting operating model comes into picture. We intend to make players ready by the time they turn 18. We do this by taking end to end care of the child from early years off the court and on the court, talent and player development, devising the schedule of tournaments they are going to play, locally and internationally to utilise their parents’ financial resources to the fullest. T
heir time management through early years preparation will be the key on what they can go on to achieving and aspiring though its phases.
Q) What kind of tie-ups do you have with foreign academies and universities in the USA?
First of all, I think Europe is the place to be, if one wants to become a professional tennis player. I think creating a top 50 player is possible with right pathways, nurturing and support from early years. If you turn 18, and then start going to Europe, you are already way behind the pack, both physically, mentally and emotionally, which has been the trend in Indian tennis.
I chose the best systems in the world. I sat down with Patrick Mouratoglou (Serena Williams’ coach and the head of Mouratoglou Tennis Academy), and came up with a strategic plans to provide Indian players the opportunity to come to France and train at their facility and compete in the region. We’ve focussed on all the intricate details, right from mental conditioning, sports medicine centre, to the work that you do on the court, in the field/gym, touring coaches, we’ve got all bases covered.
In America, we have access to all the coaches from the 3000 colleges there. We know each program there, its level, and what it has to offer. And once you know what kind of players they have on their teams, it becomes easy for you to select a program for a player, based on their level of play, academics and profile. So we can market the player as per the requirements of the USA college coaches and admissions department. We don’t want the player to go there and sit on the bench. That’s what happens to a lot of players. If you’re not good enough, you will not be on the playing team. You will loose the scholarship too. In a year’s time, they then start feeling down, loose motivation and get into bad habits. Hence, it’s very important to select the right fit and the program for the player at the onset. The coaches in America look at us as a team in India who knows the skill levels of the players and rely on us to provide them with the best talents, as per their requirements and expectations.
Q) Tell us a bit about the summer tour/program that you’ve come up with. And what are the costs around it?
The Mouratoglou-IAP Tour is the first of its kind. It’s going to happen for the first time this year. I was at the academy, and I sat down with Patrick and let him know that I want to make a difference to tennis in India. I wanted our players to have trusted teams to work with. This tournaments tour used to happen every year, but was never open to outsiders. It was only for the Academy’s player. But this time, after my conversation with Patrick, I convinced him to open up a few slots for Indian players as well.
At the tour, we’ll have 8:1 players to a coach ratio, working with the players throughout. It can be a perfect exposure for them to go there and see the level of play in Europe by themselves, and then continue working with their Indian coaches throughout the year, alongside this. The tour will also enable them to get into the rankings there, which matter a lot while applying to colleges in the USA. So it basically helps in the profiling of the players who are looking to get into college tennis.
The whole idea behind this is, that it is peak monsoon time in India during that time, and you miss a lot of tennis and competitions from June to August. Plus you get the exposure of red clay court matches and varying kind of playing styles. There are other incentives to go there as well, as these are prize money tournaments. In France, you can play two tournaments in a week. So in 3 weeks, a player can play 6-8 tournaments. These will be open draw tournaments, and a 11 or a 12 year old can come up against a 19 or 25 year old. But it’s all level based play, so a player starts to understand the importance of improvement as a tennis player, instead of only chasing ranking points.
WHO IT IS FOR : Both boys and girls, above 12 years old (Ideally for players who reach SF’s and beyond in AITA Talent Series tourneys)
COSTS : Approx. Rs. 3,60,000 (4,500 Euros – includes boarding, transportation, licensing, food) + Rs. 50,000(Flight) + Rs. 10,000(Visa)
Interested players can reach out to Anjali Parikh : firstname.lastname@example.org
or +91 98199 76958