Anvit Bendre, a former professional tennis player from Pune, has transitioned into a successful traveling coach role, currently mentoring Ankita Raina, the Indian No.1 women’s tennis player. Despite having to cut short his own playing career due to shoulder issues, Bendre has discovered a newfound passion for coaching.
With a career-high ATP ranking of 510 in doubles, which he had to cut short because of shoulder issues, Bendre’s own playing background enables him to provide valuable insights and guidance to Raina.
In this interview, Bendre shares his insights into the coaching profession, highlighting the rewards and challenges of guiding a top-ranked player. He also discusses the importance of building a strong coach-player relationship, fostering trust, and maintaining open communication.
Q) Can you talk a bit about your transition into coaching? When did it happen and what was the trigger?
AB – I started thinking about it six years back because my shoulder was giving me a lot of issues. So I thought it would be the right time for me to move into coaching. I felt I am able to understand the game well.
I’ve been working at Hemant Bendrey Sir’s academy and it’s been going good. When I started coaching, it was under him. For few years after that I was doing a lot of freelancing. A year or so back I decided to join his academy full time and that’s when he offered me the opportunity to travel with Ankita.
Q) You’ve been travelling as coach of India’s No.1 player, Ankita Raina, for a year and a half now. How has that experience been?
AB – The experience has been good. Earlier it took a bit of time to get used to it, understand her style of play, and figure what’s working for her. Then I try to add on a few things wherever I can and not try to disturb her game too much. So yeah, it’s been fun.
Q) Can you give some insights into what goes into travelling day in day out with a tennis player?
AB – Outside of the changing conditions and balls every week, visas are a operational hassle. We don’t get a long term visa, it’s very rare that we can get a long term visa for Schengen or UK one. On and off, I have to get back to India and reapply for it. It’s tough for us Indians. We don’t have too many visa-on-arrival options. So we try to get a long term visa or at least a 6 month visa.
Q) On court coaching is allowed now. How do you think that changes the role of a coach? How do you use it?
AB – It’s allowed at the WTA level and the Grand Slams, not at the ITF level. At the WTA level, I don’t try to tell her too much, see what are the things she can do better. I just share small inputs that I feel at the moment can be applied by her, those are the things I share.
Q) Her performances at French Open and Wimbledon
AB – At the French Open, she played a good match against a tough local French player in the first round in tough conditions. It was topsy turvy. The opponent started playing better from 2nd set onwards, but Ankita adjusted really well. The opponent started using her slices and drop shots more, but Ankita identified that and adjusted her own game accordingly. So that was good.
Overall Ankita did well, playing a Grand Slam after a while.