Veteran Indian tennis player Leander Paes today heaped praise on retiring cricketer Sachin Tendulkar for his longevity in the sport and the way he had conducted himself on and off the field all these years.
"For me, the way he (Tendulkar) conducts himself on a cricket field and off it is just too good. He has had an international career spanning 24 years, and I respect him for that longevity," Paes said after being felicitated by City Corporation Group Chairman Anirudh Deshpande here.
Paes, whose won the men's doubles title at the US Open in August, said the secret of his success even at the age of 40 was his hunger to win.
"A performer is always hungry to perfect his art. He is not going to be satisfied until he achieves an absolute mastery on what he does. I still strive to serve above 240 kmph. I still strive to hit a perfect top-spin backhand when the ball is above my shoulder. That's one of the toughest shots to hit," said the 1996 Atlanta Olympics men's singles bronze medallist.
Paes credited his father Vece Paes, his coaches like Nandan Bal (who was present at the event), Rick Leach, masseur Sanjay Singh and fitness trainer Dave Herman for his success.
"They all have been with me for over 20 years. It's like a family."
Reigning national hard court champion Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash, who trains under Bal, was felicitated at the hands of Paes on this occasion.
The tennis ace said he has a lot of confidence in Mohit and said the Chennai lad has a bright future.
Paes recalled his association with this city from the age of 12.
"My first memory of Pune is as a 12-year-old when I came here to learn the technique of how to play tennis under the guidance of Nandan Bal. As a player, I always looked up to him, and will continue to do so. I have always had a lot of fun and joy whenever I have come to Pune."