Pavan Patel was a student of Tennis at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy at Hilton Head in USA and later started teaching Tennis from 1998. After gathering much experience, he moved back to his homeland in Ahmedabad with a motive to promote sports and sportsmanship among young kids. Recently, he has set up his own academy, Pavan High Performance Tennis Academy, where he brings an unmatched 31 tears of international teaching experience.
To know more about his academy and future plans, Sportsavour is in conversation with Pavan Patel.
You started playing Tennis at an early age. What prompted you to take up the sport?
Pavan Patel: I started playing Tennis when I was 12 or 13 years old. The way I started playing Tennis was that my father was watching a Wimbledon final match on Doordarshan. He liked the sport; he actually wanted a sport for me because I was always breaking my legs and fracturing my arms. I was basically an outdoor person and so my father wanted me to put me into any sport so that I can get my energy out.
Then you went abroad…..
Pavan Patel: I started playing Tennis and very fast I loved the game. I was putting some extra time on wall practice, was really playing 4-5 hours a day. I improved my game very fast. I won my first state championship from two years of playing. So my father felt that I should get some more exposure and therefore sent me to Hilton Head in South Carolina. There is an academy called Van Der Meer tennis Academy and I went there for 3-months of training.
What is a very special moment that you remember while playing Tennis?
Pavan Patel: Once, while in Us, we were playing a highly-ranked college and I was playing two singles for my team. Almost 200 people came to see that match and the final set went into tiebreaker. I won it by 7-6 and it was a big moment because it was for my victory that my college won the quarter final of that state tournament.
So you always wanted to become a sportsman or someone else?
Pavan Patel: I really didn’t have any set plan about what I wanted to do when I was young. But I really felt affected to the game of Tennis because it helped me to become focused and disciplined in life. I the long term, I never wanted to become the number one in the world but I always made sure that I become the best in what I do.
Then why did you shift to coaching?
Pavan Patel: in Tennis there are some levels of tournaments that you have to play to become a professional. There is a level called challengers in America which is quite competitive. I played in that circuit and my best ranking was 760 in the world. The only thing that hurt my Tennis career was that I started a bit late. If I had started when I was 7 years old then I would have made, for sure, in the top 50 as per my ability. I played in the challenger circuit for 3 years and played three ATP tournaments. After that I decided to take my career further in Tennis and so went to a college to take my degree in Tennis Club Management and I started teaching full-time Tennis.
What is your main aim now?
Pavan Patel: When I started teaching Tennis I understood that I have a niche of stroke bio-mechanics. That means I could easily understand the errors that my students were making; I was able to fix them very correctly. So I started working more on stroke bio-mechanics with high-performance players. In spite of reaching a certain level of playing, a player looks to add some power in the game or add some extra miles per hour in his serve. So they sometimes need a coach who can guide through their changing technique and making sure of not getting insured by having the right stroke mechanics. I love teaching high-performance level, that is my specialty and that is why I came back to India to help young kids to be in better conditioning.
So now in India what is the most important aspect in which you want to work?
Pavan Patel: My main motive is to create athletes and not just Tennis players. I know that if I can successfully create good athletes in my academy then I guarantee that they will be good Tennis players. So my focus will be to really bring the light of fitness to Tennis and make good Tennis players in India.
Then how you came to know about Pickleball?
Pavan Patel: Why Pickleball? That’s a good question. I want to create a culture in India where women are participating in a sport that is easy to learn. I believe that Pickleball is one of that vehicle that I can use. Our culture is very narrow when it comes to women participation in sports and so I am trying to break that ice. Pickleball is a sport which is very easy to learn, it is easier on yourv body but at the same time you are burning calories. A study shows that you burn 400 calories per hour by playing mediocre Pickleball. So it’s a great way to come out for the women, adults and seniors specially.
So can you brief me about the activities in your academy?
Pavan Patel: I have the only academy in India that has installed four Pickleball synthetic surface courts. I just finished one high-performance Tennis court with nine layers. There are two cushion layers that soften the impact of your shoes. So my goal is to focus in my place, very privately, on those kids who are really focused to be international players. So that will be on one court and on the other courts I will promote Pickleball among all ages of people. So it will be a sanctuary where all can come and enjoy the sport.
Any other plan for the future?
Pavan Patel: I have created a company through which I will go to a club to help them a Pickleball court and give them a blueprint about the business of Pickleball.
What exactly do you want to do right after this corona menace?
Pavan Patel: We had certain plans of installing Pickleball courts in 14 different clubs before this corona pandemic. So now as soon as things settle down, I would like to visit some clubs in Mumbai, Rajasthan and some other places to show them how they can expand the Pickleball and overall sports culture. Its our duty to do everything right for making our future better.So once corona ends, I would like to visit different cities and organize seminars and lectures on what I believe and am trying to do.