Coach Wadhera savours time spent training Divij

Sitting in the stands, tennis coach Birbal Wadhera was anxiously awaiting the result of the crucial doubles rubber in the Davis Cup tie between India and New Zealand at the CLTA Stadium on Saturday. More than Vishnu Vardhan, who had just put India ahead 2-0 in the Asia Oceania Group I playoffs, his eyes were fixed on Davis Cup debutant Divij Sharan. Hooting and cheering at every point that brought the Indians closer towards victory, it was quite evident that the outcome of the match meant a lot to him.

And why not? Birbal had been Divij's travelling coach when the Delhi player was trying to catch foothold in the sport. "It's a great feeling for a coach to see his ward playing for the country. Even though I was associated with him long time back, it is nice to see him go this far," shared Birbal, who is coach at Chandigarh Club Tennis Academy.

It was Divij's father Madhav who had requested Birbal to assist the globe-trotting player on various tours. One such tour was the four-Test home and away tennis series between India and Pakistan in 2006 that was played at Islamabad, Lahore, Chandigarh and New Delhi. While India fielded an exciting team, including Rohan Bopanna, Karan Rastogi, Vivek Shokeen and Divij, the Pakistan team led by Aisam-ul Haq, included Aqeel Khan, Asim Shafik and Nomi Qamar. Going down the memory lane, the coach added, "He was one of the most consistent and regular performer on the Tour. It was always my dream to see him play in Davis Cup."

It was Divij's sheer hardwork as he jumped almost 500 places to Top 400 in the ATP rankings under Birbal's tutelage. His performances did not go unnoticed as he was drafted into the Davis Cup team for the tie against Kazakhstan in 2007.

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