It was a shaky start and I was actually in a dilemma about switching from umpiring to coaching. However, Divij Sharan’s father, Mr. Madhav Sharan, trusted my abilities and hired my services as a traveling coach, putting an end to my indecisiveness.
We started our tour from a national tournament where Divij had to represent his company Indian Oil and had to play against the likes of such established stars like Rohan Boppanna and Vijay Kannan.
It was then that the actual traveling and test for me started and we developed good friendship and rapport very soon. We had discussions, fights and settlements.
Even though we traveled to Tunisia, Romania, Nigeria, Ghana and many other places, I felt that I could not justify Mr. Madhav’s decision to hire a professional traveling coach for his hard-working son.
My friends and colleagues had a whale of a time to pull my leg as they whispered, ‘bahut enjoy kar rahe ho, jahaz mein ana Jana, achhe hotel mein rehna aur paisa be Lena tere to lag pare yaar’ and such other sentiments!
However, these words actually motivated me as I wanted him to perform and get the best out of him. But, after spending seven months on the tour and when I found things were not moving the way I wanted for Divij, I decided to quit. I met Mr. Madhav and requested him to release me as I was sorry about not being of any help to his son.
I was moved by the faith and trust of the father, as he persuaded me to continue regardless of the results. He had the understanding that it was a long process and the results would come at some stage, and patience was the key if the efforts were sincere.
Change of fortunes
I knew for sure that if you worked hard, God would reward. Divij, who was equally depressed about not performing on the tour, suddenly got an opportunity to defeat Aqeel Khan of Pakistan and won two legs of the Satellite in a row and reached the semifinals of the men’s Futures tournament in October 2006.
On noticing Divij’s consistent performances on the tour, the AITA decided to consider him for the Indo-Pak series in which he was teamed with Rohan Boppnana, Karan Rastogi, Vivek Shokeen against the Pakistan team comprising Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, Aqeel Khan, Asim Shafik and Nomi Qamar.
Jumps in ATP singles ranking
I After winning the Satellite and making it to the semifinals of Futures, Divij who was languishing around 900 in the beginning of the year rose to 430 in December.
It was a great moment not only for me but for Divij’s family when we heard that Divij was being selected in the national team for the Davis cup tie against Kazakhstan. He could not get a chance to play then.
Recently, he made the team on the weight of having reached No.94 in the world in doubles, and I was anxiously waiting for the result of the crucial doubles rubber in the Davis cup match at the CLTA between India and New Zeland in the Asia Oceania group ‘I’ play off. Divij played very well, particularly when Vishnu Vardhan lacked the energy in the legs during the fourth set.
Traveling with such a good student of the game like Divij was a learning experience for me, and I would like to express my gratitude to his parents who gave me the opportunity to work with him. I will always be grateful to them for strengthening my coaching career and will always remember my tenure with Divij for the rest of my life.