Coach Bastian Sunwanprateep has been a well known name in the Indian Tennis circuit for his long standing association with Indian players over the past decade. Along with the Indian players, he has been the coach of WTA 60 rank player Jule Niemeier.
He was in Bangalore over the past two weeks to work with Emily Welker from Germany while also supporting Zeel Desai and Vaidehi Chaudhari who train at their partner academy Altevol in Ahmedabad.
In this interview, he shares his views on Indian Tennis, the two upcomers Vaidehi Chaudhari and Zeel Desai and on the transition of Alexander Waske-Tennis University to the Boris Becker Tennis Academy.
Thoughts on Vaidehi`s good run.
She is doing really good work in our partner academy at Altevol in Ahmedabad. Coach Jignesh and Vaidehi have been working together for a long time now. She is very focused and a very good athlete and so her results speak for themselves.
She has improved her forehand a lot. She has shortened her backswing a little bit. Her serve has improved a bit as well. She is more mature and confident on the court now.
The BJK Cup selection is a just reward that she, Coach Jignesh Rawal and Altevol have put in. She should feel proud and be very happy to represent India in Uzbekistan.
Thoughts on Zeel Desai.
Zeel has been practising a lot with us in Germany. She has improved physically a lot and is playing really good tennis now. Her game has become way more compact and aggressive. So far, she could not get it really into the tournaments yet – she had a couple of good results in the Indian ITF W15s and with a bit of confidence, I am 100% sure – her results will be there for all to see. I am expecting her to do well on the tour in the next 12 months.
As a Coach – what have you observed in terms of the differences in the training and the coaching methodologies in India with Germany?
Prajnesh Gunneswaran would be the best example for this. We have been working together for almost 10-12 yrs now. He says, no matter how much he tries, he does not get the same intensity into his training in India.
It could be a combination of several things – Practice partners who can give him that quality training, the mindset of being at home vs being in Europe away from home in a professional set (a bit similar to Work-from-home vs working from office),
We are recreating that experience in our partner academy in Altevol Ahmedabad. Our catches had been in Germany for 3-4 months, exchanged notes and knowledge and I think they will go strength to strength over time as our partnership is still relatively young.
Alexander Waske-Tennis Academy is moving to the Boris Becker Tennis Academy facility. How is this transition happening?
When it is finished, it will be one of the biggest academies in the world. It will have 20 indoor courts, outdoor courts, a Hotel and overall a huge training facility. While we move to such a big facility, we still would want to work at individual level with players and make them their best version.
How can players approach you or how do you spot talent that can deserve your attention?
Couple of players have approached me already here on this Indian trip. I advised them a bit on their game and invited them to Germany for a trial at our academy where we both can assess if we are the right fit for each other.
I generally do not approach players as I want to respect their relationship with their present coaches. However, when players approach me – I am happy to guide them.
Any other players that you observed?
I observed Shrivalli play. She is a good talent. She has a sound technical base already. I see a good future for her – it’s about getting a couple of things right with her.
Given your long association with Indian Tennis – who do you think can fill in the shoes from the big void left by Sania.
Karman has huge potential. She has been at our academy as a Junior. I worked with her and Jule Niemeier who is now a top-60 WTA player. Jule ended up improving way more but in my mind, Karman has it in her to go all the way to the top-50 WTA rankings.
Ankita has the capability to get back closer to top-100 again. She is a thorough professional.
For me – I feel Zeel and Vaidehi can also go step-by-step in that direction. Most important is to keep the right ethic. Tennis now-a-days gives you a lot more time – not like the decades before where you had to hit your ranking targets as a teenage player in Women’s tennis.
On the men’s side – Sumit Nagal has the potential to go the top-100 in ATP Rankings. I believe he will make it at some time. Prajnesh wants to make another run to the top-100 as well. We had a great off-season and he played the best tennis he has played since he was in the top-100 but unfortunately the wrist injury has been a pity. He will be doing 3-4 weeks of rehab and then he will come to Germany for 3-4 weeks of training before resuming on the tour again.
Thoughts on the doubles dream of India.
It is a great initiative and a really good first step. We have Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji who are moving up the ranks as well. Hopefully the success of this initiative can be a good motivating factor for sponsors to take it forward with a similar initiative towards singles.