I have been reflecting about this article for almost a week. When Valeria asked me to write about my Dad and how he influenced my tennis career I was delighted to accept, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy to write about this wonderful, complex relationship, we built throughout the years. As I was going down memory lane day after day, gratefulness began overflowing in me. Besides teaching me one of the most beautiful sports – tennis - he has thought me so much off the court as well and grew so much as a person and athlete because of him. Way too many things and lessons to list , but I am going to try to share how wonderful he has been. Hopefully it will motivate and/or help other parents and coaches supporting kids to succeed in any sports.
Behind every successful athlete there is a great coach and for me it was my Dad for 14 years.
I vividly remember the day when our unique journey began as a Daughter - Dad and Coach-Player combo. It was a warm spring afternoon, I was hanging out at the tennis club with other kids having a great time, whilst he was coaching. When he was done with his lessons, he asked me if I wanted to have a go. I instantly said yes as there was something fascinating about his passion for the game and the dedication, he has to bring out the best in others. He gave me a custom-made wooden racquet made by him and since that day I have been playing tennis non- stop. What really made our relationship special is the mutual respect for each other’s work ethic. He always demanded very high standards- “If you do something, you got to do it right.” Another favorite of his was “It is very simple, the effort you put in, the results you get out.” He always been a role model for that, and he adored me and done everything in his power to make me the best player I can be. It hasn’t always been easy to accept his ways. One has to know he is a painfully honest person and when and me only being a kid it took a bit of time to learn and accept the fact that he was treating me almost as an adult and wanted me to face things with maturity and see things for what they are. I am ever so grateful for him for treating me with that kind of openness and honesty, it has thought me to compete in a honest way and be humble. He never thru around compliments one after the other for the same reason. He always said and believed, you set goals, you achieve them and then next day you go back on the court and start working towards your next goal with the same intensity you were working before. We gain experience by succeeding or failing but we never gain entitlement no matter what.
I am also ever so grateful for him teaching me to shift perspective, to look for and finding the right motivation in different scenarios. One of the biggest lessons on this was, when we were involved in a very bad car accident. I was about to turn 14 and was playing the Women’s National Championship, I was playing in a great from, winning my first round and next day when we were on our way back for the second round match, the back tire of the car blew up and the car flipped over, which resulted in a broken L5 vertebrae for me. The following week I was going to play one of the most prestigious Junior International Tournament in Genova Italy. I couldn’t as I was ordered to stay in bad, laying down for 6 weeks so my vertebrae could heal. I was devastated, at that age my only perspective was to play tennis and win as many matches as possible. I cried for 2 days. Dad sat at my hospital bad and said you’ve got to put things into perspective. At that age my only perspective was to play tennis and win as many matches as possible. Sheer drive to succeed. He said look: You are still alive, you are still able to play tennis and knowing you, how tough you are you will be back stronger than ever. Life has shown its tough side, that it is not always fair, but as long as you breath you fight. You keep going and never give up. And with that from that moment on I stopped crying and started planning my comeback.
Each day, step by step. He has given me wings and right then and then he thought me that you will come across losses whether it is in life or on the court that will feel unbearable and unfair, but you got to keep on moving forward. He taught me to be a winner and he taught me to never let myself down. I am always ever so grateful for him being there throughout my life and the bond we have built in both good and bad times.
Happy Father’s day Dad! I love you dearly!