It's difficult to find something common between a dental surgeon, an IT professional, a mechanical engineer and a banker, but then sports is known to unite in more ways than one. This year, out of 35 candidates who have applied for an AITA course to become tennis coach, 16 are from diverse backgrounds ranging from engineering to journalism. Some of them have already left plum jobs to pursue the sporting career. Chennai-based Ganesh Srinivasan, who has been in the IT industry for close to three decades, has already given up a decent annual package of Rs 24 lakh to become a tennis coach - a job which might not give him more than 20,000 per month initially. "I have seen a lot of professionals, who are struggling with physical fitness. I want to help them. Playing sport creates happy hormones. I think tennis coaching is a fantastic alternate profession," the 52-year-old, who till recently worked with Ernst and Young, told PTI. Then there's Ravi Shankar, a dental surgeon based in Tutikori, Tamil Nadu, who wants his twins to become tennis players. "I played tennis at district level but could not become a professional. I have a boy and a girl, they are twins. My wife Parvada Varthini is also a dental surgeon, MDS. She is now pushing me to become a tennis coach," Shankar said after a training session. "I had forgotten myself but again after picking up racquet, I am getting myself back. Tennis is like meditation for me." However, it is not a surprise to see that well-educated people are now aspiring to join the tennis coaching profession since the country has seen boom in tennis long before badminton took over as most sought after sport after cricket. A trend has been witnessed in modern cities such as Chandigarh where hundred of tennis academies have mushroomed and Markers have gradually taken over as coaches, earning close to 50,000 a month. So, people who hardly earned Rs 300 to 400 as daily wages found that tennis coaching is a profitable. Without doubt, the tennis coaching has become lucrative. Bikram Barua left his job at the Royal Bank of Scotland and now wants to establish his academy in Guwahati.
He already has some experience of coaching and had no hesitation in quitting his job. Then there is Vignesh Balaji, a computer scientist, who wants to coach kids in the rural areas of Tutikori. Kanwaljit Singh, who conducted the seven-day (Level III) Foundation Coaches Course at Delhi Lawn Tennis Association, said they used to get one or two odd cases of non-sport candidates but this year the number is phenomenal. "It's really motivating. It shows that tennis coaching is now very respectable," said Kanwaljit, who is one of only seven ITF Level III coaches in India. "People are quitting good jobs to be tennis coaches. I have never seen so many people from different backgrounds in a single group," said Kanwaljit, who conducts the course along with Nar Singh, a DLTA coach. Tennis has always been an expensive sport and also seen as a preserve of the elites. But the sport also opened the doors of prestigious clubs for the players, making it an aspirational game. Renuka Singh, who successfully pursued a Company Secretary (CS) course and worked with Mazaars, is also headed for a coaching career after getting married in a family of tennis professionals -- she is the wife of former national champion Ashutosh Singh. Shainky Pathak became a gold medal-winning mechanical engineer in Bhopal. But he now wants to help tennis enthusiasts in the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, a dream which brought him to DLTA for this course. Nar Singh, the DLTA coach, was delighted to note that more and more people are willing to join the profession. "It shows that people are now more aware about tennis becoming a career option. More people want to play the sport so it's good that we have people from good educational background to join the profession," Singh said. All it costs to be a tennis coach after clearing the exam is Rs 22,000, which includes Rs 15000 as course fee. Young Karan Chouhan has an interesting story to tell. "My mother's grandfather used to coach the king of Varanasi. I learnt the game from my maternal uncle but could never become a player since my father did not like me going to tennis courts. My father passed away recently and it was on his insistence that I did MCA. I think I have fulfilled my father's wish and can now chase my own dream.
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