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Friday, July 31, 2009

I almost quit tennis at 19: Leander Paes

He won us a bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and has nine Grand Slams in his kitty. Yet at 36, he has no plans to quit.

But not many people know that Leander Paes had almost quit tennis when he was 19.
Paes, who was DNA's Guest Sports Editor on Wednesday, said he had "made up" his mind. "I had a chance to turn pro or pick up a scholarship at Stanford University. I thought college life was more happening." Also, in his 19th year, Paes was out of home for 10 months and felt "homesick". "I started losing badly," he said. "I came back, threw my racquets in a corner and promised my dad that I would never play again. He turned to me and said coolly: 'Ok'."

"If he had said 'no, you should play' and all that, then I would never have played, because I am a bit of a rebel. After four months, I picked up my racquet and started playing and never stopped again. My tank was empty then but now it's full," he said.
Paes, who left the comforts of his home in 1986, has been on the road for 23 years.
Among all the trophies and medals that he's collected along the way, his biggest achievement is "fatherhood", said Paes, whose daughter Aiyana is more than three years old now.

"Parenthood has affected me as a player, but in the most positive way imaginable," said Paes, who thinks Aiyana is his lucky charm. "I took my daughter to the US Open when she was just two months old. I had never won the tourn

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