Monday, November 13, 2006

For a fitter and mentally stronger Sania Mirza

CONFIDENT COMBO: Sania Mirza and Heath Mathew believe that the present training stint would produce great results.

HYDERABAD: South African trainer Heath Mathew is now in Hyderabad and is fully involved in the job of making India's best hope in women's tennis Sania Mirza a fitter and mentally stronger player.

"It is really tough out there, and very demanding. It is crazy but I am enjoying every bit of it," she said in a chat with The Hindu after yet another gruelling session.

But significantly, Heath believes that the next six months would be a crucial phase for building a strong foundation and ensuring a bright future for Sania.

Impressive attitude

"What has impressed me most is her attitude. She is willing to give more than 100 per cent during training," he remarked. Questioned whether she considered Sania fit in all aspects, the South African was diplomatic in saying: "She will be fitter and awesome after these training sessions have been completed."

For someone who will celebrate her 21st birthday on November 16, Sania was in no mood to resist the advance `gift' her father had planned for her by way of this training schedule. Sania says that right now the focus is the Hopman Cup and the Doha Asian Games.

"I am really enjoying the training with Heath and hope to get the desired results out of it," she said. "Definitely, if I had got this sort of training 14 years ago, I would have been a much better player today," Sania remarked. "I have not set any goals for myself. Let us see how things develop over the next few weeks," she said to a query.

It is obvious that the 26-year-old Heath Mathew is enjoying what he says is a big challenge — to train Sania Mirza.

"I think she is an amazing bundle of talent. For the last one year, the focus was on the finer aspects of the game and improving skills. Now the focus is on fitness as she seems to have acquired every stroke in the game," he analysed.

For the few who turned up at the Fateh Maidan tennis complex it was obvious that a much fitter and quicker Sania was in action during the practice sessions.

Complete training

Both Heath Mathew and Sania Mirza stress that the present stint will involve the whole gamut of training — covering every aspect of the game and physical conditioning. For this reason, Sania's father Imran Mirza sought the services of two young tennis players from Kolkata — Vinod Kumar Seva and Manoj Kumar Seva — to act as hitting partners for Sania till the Hopman Cup.

Sania reveals that Heath will travel with her on the circuit next year and for his part the trainer feels that the first real assessment of his training schedule will be made before the Australian Open next January.

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