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From basketball to tennis: Ankit Patel carries forward his father’s legacy

Ankit Patel is one of the brightest tennis coaches in the National Capital Region. Aarjun Pandit, a member of the current Indian team for Junior Davis Cup, has been groomed by the 35-year-old Ankit.

Sandeepti Singh Rao is another player developed by Ankit. Tavish Pahwa, a talented under-14 player is shaping bright under the tutelage of Ankit.

The late Rajesh Patel, a great basketball coach who had worked wonders with the Chhattisgarh women’s team, pushed his son Ankit from basketball into tennis. The coach died while travelling from one national basketball tournament to another in 2018.

While the family runs a basketball coaching centre and grooms 120 girls at the Rajesh Patel Sports Complex in Bhilai, Ankit conducts a tennis tournament every year in the memory of his father.

“My dad was a one man army. He was basketball coach, fitness trainer, yoga teacher. He was also maths and commerce teacher. He was highly qualified with M.A., M.Com and LLB. He was a gold medallist in basketball coaching at the NIS. His day started at 5 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m. From 2019 till date, the family is managing all the expenses of running the basketball academy. My mother Anita ji and brother Rohit Patel take care of the centre”, recalled Ankit.

Hundreds of girls were trained by Patel over two decades, and many made a career at the national and international level.

“My wife Mridula was trained by my dad. She played in the Asian under-18 championship. Like all his students, she was also attached to him. She only gave me the idea to do a memorial tournament”, said Ankit.

The games may be different, but Ankit has grasped the good points from his father to be an efficient and successful coach.

“My father did not believe in the old military style of coaching. He was more friends with the players and helped them to play their best, giving them conviction in the method. He always emphasises on discipline, dedication, hard work, self belief and good attitude. He demanded 100 percent concentration on court”, observed Ankit.

The good work of Patel continues in Bhilai. Last year D Kirti played in the Asian under-18 championship. Moni Adla played in the Asian under-16 championship in Jordan.

On his part, Ankit not only coaches talented tennis players to help them realise their potential, but also competes in the ITF Masters circuit, making it to the finals most of the time, with his strong game and excellent court craft.

The family guides basketball and tennis players with equal felicity, based on strong fundamentals developed by Patel during his sterling career, entirely devoted to sports.

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