UTF has played a big role in promotion of tennis in Uzbekistan- Kafelnikov
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) --
Former World No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, winner of two Gran slams, four Grand Slam Doubles titles and an Olympic Gold Medal Winner for Russia in tennis was the guest at the Tashkent Challenger. He participated at the Master Class event hitting with young and enthusiastic children of the Olympic Tennis School.
Sunder Iyer and Indira Gazeeva of the Tashkent Media Challenger team met up with the former tennis Superstar on the occasion of his visit.
You have played here before, you're feelings on returning back to Tashkent?
I'm very thrilled to come back, of course I remember my playing days. I also remember the moment when I won the President Cup and being awarded the trophy from the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 9 years ago. I want to relive the moment and wish the best to the respected President and would like to meet him again.
A lot of children dropout of the game, and how did you mange to keep going?
Tennis is a tough game, players parents and coaches have to go through a lot of disappointments, One has to work very hard which most of the m want to skip, many people find it easier to go out of the game then to continue with the game.
I wanted to drop out too as I wanted too was expecting results very fast and soon, but I was lucky to have many of my well wishers around who helped me to stay back in the game supporting me in terms of coaching, and also mentally forcing to work hard. If one works hard you can achieve the best results.
What is your advice to young tennis players?
One has to love tennis, if one is not committed to the sport, then one should play it as a hobby, today I saw a lot interest and enthusiasm in the children and I'm sure many of them will become future tennis stars. If you work hard one can achieve the goals.
Tell us about the Master Class programme today?
Children are our future, when you see them smile it is wonderful feeling, I would like to share my experiences and give them advice, want to thank UTF for organising such an event, it helps the children to gain confidence.
Do you miss tennis?
When I retired, at first I didn’t miss it as I was playing so much. I was happy to be away, but after three years I started missing it, I understood that tennis is my life and it was difficult to stay away, I wanted to be involved with game not only in Russia but throughout the world. I have started playing senior events and have played in France and Wimbledon and will be participating at the Australian open
About the Russian tennis scene today?
Actually I am satisfied with the women's tennis in Russia today. We have 2 players in the top 10 and also pleased to know that Russian Ksenia Pervak won here last week. The situation in men's tennis is not good, but there are, many youngsters playing and they have a good future, I hope that some of these youngsters will become stars and revive men's tennis in Russia
Any plans to get into the coaching scene?
I have never thought about it. I always have helped young tennis players, many of them asked me for advice. I'm always ready to help and support them, but mentally I'm not ready to take up any coaching assignments
What are you unforgettable moments in your life?
Actually I remember all the weeks I played tennis, but some moments etched to my mind are my Rolland Garros title in 1996, the Australian Open title in 1999, Davis Cup win for my country in 2002 and the Olympic Games in Melbourne, where I won the gold medal.
Will you want your daughter to play tennis?
My daughter doesn't play tennis but is interested in equestrian, her grandfather tried to push her into tennis but she shows no interest for the game and I don't want to push her. However I’m grateful to my father for pushing me into tennis.
How do you perceive the role of Uzbekistan Tennis Federation in promotion of tennis in Uzbekistan?
The UTF have done very well, I would like to thank to them for an event like this. They have shown a lot of foresight in promotion of the game, they have helped players a lot they have a good tournament system in place, they have tried to put good coaching Programme for the players. They have organised many high level events and are on the right path
I congratulate them for the efforts put in promotion of the game and popularising it. I also wish that one day they will host the President Cup again.