Sumit Nagal is undoubtedly one of the brightest prospects in Indian tennis. The 20-year-old from Jhajjar in Haryana hit the spotlight when he lifted the Wimbledon`s boys doubles title in 2015.
As a youngster he has been blessed with the right support from different quarters from Mahesh Bhupathi`s Globosport to JSW. One more important person who has played a very crucial role is his coach Mariano Delfino from Argentina when Sumit shifted to Schuettler Waske Tennis-University in Germany in 2014.
This guru shishya relationship played a very important role in Sumit`s career who is now preparing to hit the road to greater heights.
I caught up with Mariano Delfino to hear from him about his relationship with his ward and his take on his future.
ME: Thanks Mario for your time. So, I am with somebody who took care of India`s most promising men`s player.
Mariano Delfino: Well, I just did my best. Still a lot of work to do for Sumit.
ME: Are you still coaching Sumit full time?
Mariano Delfino: I am not in Waske Academy anymore. I am working in another club now. Sumit is always welcome to come here but I cannot travel full time like before. My son is 8 years old now and I was a lot away. Now I want to spend more time with my family.
ME: I understand. I met Sumit the other day. He is grinding for the Bangalore Open that starts in a few days
Mariano Delfino: I am in contact with Sumit and our relationship is very good.
ME: Also, I guess of late he is putting a lot of time on his fitness. In Bangalore he trains at Peak Performance run by the Indian Davis Cup physio, Yash Pandey.
Mariano Delfino: Yes, they do a good job. Also, I like Yash Pandey.
ME: I guess overall, he has a good game. Wish he was a bit bigger because the game has become so physical. What do you think?
Mariano Delfino: Well, I asked Sumit to get a full-time condition trainer and he is looking for one. If he does not get stronger it will be difficult for him in big tournaments.
ME: Hopefully he can finance one.
Mariano Delfino: He needs to invest there. Tennis coach and fitness coach is very expensive.
ME: Where do you see Sumit in the next 2 years. Can he come close to 150 on the ATP in the next 2 years?
Mariano Delfino: I am hoping for top 100. All depends on how hard he is going to work. He needs to start using his experience and get better. He is working well. Hopefully he will get more mature and will take better calls. He has good potential.
ME: How has he been as a student?
Mariano Delfino: Good. But I know he can do more. We worked for 4 years together and still in very good relationship. He needs to understand that to go to the top there is a price to pay. When I say I am not talking about money. By this I mean sometimes he needs to do stuff he does not like.
ME: What sort of a guy is he? Is he someone who loves sticking to the same routine or he loves experimenting new things as well?
Mariano Delfino: He works hard but then on tour you need to defend your dream every time you have a match.
ME: So, is he low on focus on tour?
Mariano Delfino: Sometimes he does not want to do the trip he needs to. In Futures level if you are not strong mentally it is impossible because of the conditions. I had millions of talks with him and hopefully he understands. He needs to work harder and there is no time to have fun now. I feel next year is crucial for him.
ME: I think you need to talk to him more to make him understand. I guess he will listen to his coach 😊
Mariano Delfino: I always tell him that he needs to work hard. Preparation is one part. After that you need to go like a tiger on the tour. He needs to believe 100 percent in his dreams and hard work always pays.
ME: I just want to pick the brains of a tennis coach now. Do you honestly believe that a guy like Sumit can have a great transformation in his game and take on a guy like Nick Krygios in 3-4 years time?
Mariano Delfino: Yes he can. In tennis all can change in one week. Change for good or bad.
ME: So, are you talking about winning a few good matches and it is a mental thing?
Mariano Delfino: That is why you need to be mentally strong in your head and remember everyday why you play tennis. You need to prepare good week after week and need to keep going. If you are not prepared you get happy. And if you get happy you do not keep pushing.
ME: He started the year with an injury and was out of action for a good 3-4 months. Is it because he overdoes deadlifts more that he can take?
Mariano Delfino: I do not think that problem was because of that. I think it was because of missing fitness routine. I am not a doctor but it is only my guess. He needs to give time everyday to work on his tennis and body.
ME: How long does he practices?
Mariano Delfino: With me he used to practice good enough. He needs to improve on his fitness and the mental part too.
ME: Is he fit enough to play a 5 setter?
Mariano Delfino: In my opinion no. Maybe I am wrong and hopefully I am wrong.
ME: Did you have a look into other Indian tennis prospects?
Mariona Delfino: There is a big potential in India. I saw Karman Kaur Thandi during her junior’s time. She won in Offenbach grade 1 and I found her quite good. While seeing her play I found her to be a top 50 on the WTA in future. She has a great potential and she is a good girl.
ME: Do you feel that India can produce good players only when our kids train abroad?
Mariano Delfino: In India conditions are very tough for practice. It is impossible to work for 5-7 hours a day. The only option is indoor courts with good air conditioning 😊. But I am sure we are going to see a few good players in the years to come.
ME: Thanks a lot Mariano. It was such a pleasure talking to you.
Mariano Delfino: Thanks to you man. Also, thanks for recognizing my work. Cheers!