Let’s travel down memory lane for a moment, to a time when I was competing in Canterbury, New Zealand at a junior ITF event. This was 10 years ago, wow!
It was the first day of the event and I was walking around the club, observing matches that were in progress. I happened to notice someone who was seated behind a match court. He looked familiar, like I had seen him before. I was 99% sure that he was the same coach who I had seen on television during a highly publicised match between Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui at the QF stage of the Australian Open in 2003. It set the record at the time for the longest match in open history. I knew I just had to find out, so I did.
Yes, I was right. It was Tarik Benhabiles, the French Algerian ATP player turned coach. What was he doing in New Zealand? Well, at the time he was no longer coaching Andy Roddick and was now working with another American. I was just so happy to meet him and wanted to spend every day with him during that event. He was very humble and down to earth. My mother accompanied me to the event and he asked me to introduce him to her and I thought that was a very nice gesture. He even bought her a coffee and started to speak Arabic with her. Tarik watched my matches that week and gave me very good feedback. He mentioned that he hadn’t coached female players but he would make an exception for me, so we exchanged contact details and years later I would meet him again and train with him at his academy in Florida, USA.
I guess, you can say it’s all about who you know, but being at the right place at the right time is also important.