Mohindra hails return of Wyatt’s WMD
The Bandeja’s Chief Writer RJ Mitchell caught up with GB International Nikhil Mohindra to get his views on the season ahead and the players in the frame for team selection.
Nikhil Mohindra has described Ryan Wyatt’s recovery from injury a ‘massive boost’ for Team GB ahead of a season which will culminate in the European Championships in October.
The 29-year-old suffered World Championship heartbreak in October when a forearm injury saw him forced to drop out from GB squad coach John Leach’s team for Dubai. The injury had first surfaced before the World Cup European Qualifiers at We Are Padel Derby and after seemingly recovering, Ryan competed in the HOP PRO Tour event at Hampton Court a week before the qualifiers only to damage the arm again.
Unable to train in the week leading up to Derby, he sacrificed himself to play in the lost tie against Portugal after the GB men’s team suffered a personnel crisis just before their all-or-nothing 3rd v 4th clash with Germany – and paid the ultimate price.
But after he teamed up with close ‘padel pal’ Mohindra to make the final of the HOP PRO LTA Grade 2 at Chelsea Harbour Club earlier this month, the duo made it all the way to the final only to lose out to Jorge Martinez and Fernando Cuesta 6-4, 6-4.
Nikhil says he has seen enough to suggest Ryan is on the way back to form: “Ryan has been slowly cranking up his comeback but the HOP was the first time he has really tested it against high level opposition.
“We made the final against Jorge and his partner from Spain Fernando 6-4, 6-4. We were 4-5 with a break point and Ryan dumped it in the bottom of the net – so maybe the big chap still has some rust to shed!
“But seriously although his fitness was lacking a bit his smash was incredible. For me it was World Padel Tour level and that is great news when you consider the arm injury he had. Ryan and I have played together hundreds of times and we complement each other really well. I have the consistency and he has the killer shots like the weapon of mass destruction that is his smash!
“We feel we could definitely do a job for GB this season coming at the Europeans, if selected, and his fitness will only get better with every tournament. Hopefully this has put down a marker in that respect.”
Training with Bela
Nikhil has benefitted from training at the Bela Padel Centre in Alicante where he is being coached by Argentine legend Fernando ‘Bela’ Belasteguin but as he revealed that is not the only padel grandee who is influencing his game.
The GB international said: “I have been lucky to be working under Jordi Munoz, who is a former double world champion, has won the Europeans three times and was also a multiple Masters finalist and that has been a privilege.
“The work under Jordi is really intense and that is what I love about it. Every time he tells me something, for example to swing my hips, it really works. He has been at the top and he knows what it takes. On top of that I have also done some training with Paquito Navarro, the great Spanish player, which has been an honour.
“Christian Medina (GB No 1) also trains under Jordi and I get the opportunity to train with him and various guys in the top 100 and also Richard Brooks, who is just a fantastic mentor. All that is amazing and I can really feel my game coming along.”
Go pro with Jones
Nikhil recently played his first professional tournament with fellow Brit Sam Jones in Dubai, competing in the FIP Gold Dubai. They went out in the second round of qualifying to Belgian No 1 pairing 4 and 4, which Nikhil described as a ‘massive improvement’ for them.
Looking forward to the unfolding but still embryonic padel season, Nikhil is in no doubt that GB Men’s Head Coach John Leach will have the strongest squad ever at his disposal for the European team selection.
He said: “In preparation for the FIP at Rocks Lane John held a squad session and it had never been so competitive.
“There is a great transition of tennis players coming through like Sam MacNeil, Tom Farquharson, Jamie Eccleton, Nick Hatchet, and Alex Loughlan.
“Christian (Medina) and his partner Albertito competed in Las Palmas recently, losing in three sets to the French No 1 Ben Tison and his partner. It was a fantastic result and confirms Christian is playing amazingly well.
“Louie Harris and Sam (Jones) have been in Madrid for the last three months based at the Diagonal Club, one of the best training academies in the world, and you can see the improvements that has made in their games.
“Then Alphonso Patacho, after missing out on the team for the worlds, has really proved a point in winning a few tournaments with Chris Salisbury.
“So I would say, looking ahead that the GB squad is in great shape,” concluded Nikhil.