Interview with Jignesh Rawal ji on Mann Shah, India’s lone participant in the US Open Juniors

Coach Jignesh Rawal ji has been a prominent figure in the Indian Tennis coaching scene. His ward Mann Shah, participated in the US Open Jr Boys qualifying and lost in a tough 3-setter against the higher ranked opponent Lorenzo Rottoli of Italy. 

Mann Shah is a trainee at the Altevol Alexander Waske Tennis University in Ahmedabad with Jignesh Rawal ji as the coach. We caught up with Jignesh ji to get his thoughts on the match and Mann Shah in general. We also got a sneak peek into the talents to watch out for, from the academy!

Match Result: [Q1] Mann Shah (114, IND) l. Lorenzo Rottoli (85, ITA) 36 63 46

Interview by Gautam Belday for Indian Tennis Daily

Thoughts on the match. It appeared to be pretty competitive.

My clear thought is on the physical condition. In the first set, he was nervous as it was a Grand Slam with lots of people watching and so on. He didn’t play his 100% in the first set but after that, he started believing in himself. 

He played a very good second set. In the third set when the score was 2-2, he started losing momentum a little bit and the score became 5-2 down. Again he pumped himself and got back to 5-4. Then at 15-15, he missed a very easy overhead. From there, it was difficult and it cost him the whole match. 

So overall a little bit more physical condition and the belief that he can compete at the international level – that would have made a difference than anything else. 

Beside the physical condition, any other areas that you feel Mann should work on?

Mann really needs to work on his movement, endurance and mental toughness. 

He trains at the Altevol Alexander Waske-Tennis University, right?

Yes, he started training at the new system from the last 6 months. He is doing better. He is hitting his serve at 200 kmph now. He is just 18 yrs old and he is almost 6’5 tall soon. 

He is tactically very strong tennis wise. He needs to build tremendous athleticism to get himself to a better place. 

Having the Waske-University come over, has that made any difference?

Our fitness coach is from Serbia. He played professional Basketball for 20 years. He was selected for the Chicago Bulls team. He trained several professional Soccer teams. So thanks to him, the fitness of every kid is improving. 

Where the kids are struggling is on a professional approach. So far, everyone thinks that hours and hours of tennis makes you a champion. However, it’s not that – one needs to focus on all subjects – fitness, technical, tactical, mental, being injury-free, psychology and so on. The kids are getting better but they are taking time to adjust to the new system. 

So far they were counting on the hours of practice. It’s not about that anymore – it’s more about the intensity even if it is only for 1.5 to 2 hrs. So I think that Mann will also improve for sure. 

Any other athletes from the academy to look out for? We heard quite a bit about Vipasha Mehra recently. 

Vipasha joined us in April. Her ranking was greater than 1000 at that time. Right now, she is at around 250. We are looking at 3 more tournaments and if she does well there, you are looking at her playing in all the Grand Slams next year. 

We are training one more kid – Aman Dahiya. He was India No.1. He is a 15-yr old kid. He just played his first ITF in Hyderabad. He won 3 qualification rounds, then won 2 rounds in the main draw. He lost to the 1st seed but had 6 set points. This kid is a very very bright talent. We should hear more about him over the next 1-2 years. 

Any final thoughts

Mann Shah: I am here thanks to the huge support from the Altevol Alexander Waske Tennis University, Jignesh Sir, Sports Authority of Gujarat and my parents who ensured that I reach the Grand Slams level. So thank you to everyone for making this happen. 

Jignesh Rawal ji: He’ll be focusing on the Fenesta Nationals now, the biggest nationals event in India and then on the fitness part. This is the best time to focus on the fitness part as there is only one event left in September. For the rest of the year, we’ll focus on the physical and the mental aspects. 

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