ISLAMABAD - Mahboob Khan is Pakistan's brilliant tennis coach as he produced number of international level players, including her daughter Sarah Mahboob, who has been country's No 1 player for a record period of seven years.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Friday, Mahboob said he succeeded owing to using modern instructions, modified rackets, scaled down court, slow bouncing foam tennis balls and keeping up-to-date with changes in the tennis world.
“I visited the US several times and participated not only in coaching clinics but also in competitive tournaments, which helped me a lot. I brought latest equipment from the US and used the stuff to the best of my knowledge and tried to groom the future of the country at Mahboob Khan Tennis Academy (MKTA) at Islamabad Club,” Mahboob said. He said the tennis-coaching programme was flourishing fruitfully with each passing day while another thing was that not only local and grassroots level players were coming to join the academy, but also foreigners were learning tennis from the academy.
Replying to a query, Mahboob said: "Our eyes are on the modern ATP and WTA players and we observe them how they are trained and execute their shots and how they plan their tactics. We have a system whereby we show our students the super-slow motion hitting sequencings of the world class players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova.”
Replying to another query, Mahboob said: “I have produced top players who are playing tennis internationally. Syed Nofil Kaleem's initial grooming was done by me and whenever possible, he had been playing with former national champion Sarah Khan who won 67 tennis titles. I have also coached Natasha Afridi who was Pakistan No 2, just behind Sarah and so was Anoosha Aslam, Zainab Khan, Sara Mansoor and Meheq Khokhar and the list is quite long.”
He said he had played a major role in the development of Samir Iftikhar back in 2009-10 when he was playing the world's junior circuit. “Samir is now playing for the University of New Mexico (UNM). Current Pakistan's no 4 Usman Ejaz is another player who has been receiving my help from time to time,” he maintained.
“I have great ambitions and my services are always available for Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF). I also want to produce world class players for the country. In case, the PTF gives me an SOS call, I am more than willing to answer it in a positive way. I am quite sure that Pakistan is blessed with natural raw talent which needs to be detected. It is only a matter of time when that raw material can be turned into one of the best in business,’ he added.
Mahboob paid glowing tributes to ITA president Iftikhar Rashid, convener tennis section Sultan Hayat Khan and the entire management of Islamabad Club for supporting his programme and lending a helping hand for this noble cause. “If I could produce a female champion and that too my own daughter, as it is very difficult to work with your own children then I have very little doubt about my abilities. I can turn an ordinary player and beginner into a professional one,” Mahboob concluded.