Sandon Stolle

Death And Federer’s Vienna

This week, the ATP World Tour visits Vienna, Austria for the Vienna Trophy championships. While Roger Federer is not in the field this week, the event has been very important to him. Vienna was the site of Roger Federer’s first ever ATP World Tour semifinal back in 1999 when as an 18-year-old, he defeated Vince Spadea, Jiri Novak and Karol Kucera before losing to Greg Rusedski. In 2002, Federer won a very emotional final against Novak 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to win his first tournament since the death of his childhood coach Peter Carter. In 2003, his last visit to the event, Federer won the title over Carlos Moya for his 10th career ATP World Tour final. Fittingly, Federer dedicated the 2002 tournament victory to Carter. “I dedicate this title to him,” he said with glistening eyes at the award ceremony, wrote Rene Stauffer in the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com). Stauffer re-counts the death of Carter and the emotional toll it took on Federer in this exclusive book excerpt below.

South Africa was always a special place for Roger Federer. He held a South African passport since birth and became endeared to his mother’s native country. He routinely traveled there with his family when he was little. “South Africa is a haven for him away from the world of tennis to find fresh inspira­tion,” his mother explained once. “It has a certain openness to it. You grow up with a lot of space in South Africa, which is something different compared to the narrowness of a mountain landscape. South Africans are more open, less complicated. Roger had taken on these characteristics.”

Meanwhile, Federer acquired a valuable piece of property along the pic­turesque Garden Route on the western coast of South Africa at the luxurious Pezula Resort. After the exhausting 2000 season, Federer vacationed in South Africa, where he went on safari with his godfather, Arthur Dubach, a work colleague of Federer’s father during his work days in South Africa. They even experienced a rare site for tourists—a group of leopards killing and eating a gazelle.

In the early afternoon on August 2, 2002, the announcement came over the Swiss news agency Sportinformation—“Davis Cup Captain Carter Killed In Car Crash.” According to the story, the accident occurred in South Africa where he was vacationing with his wife Silvia. There was no further informa­tion. The bad news was then updated with the report that a second man died in the accident.

What really transpired during this belated honeymoon between Peter and his wife was not immediately known. Carter was driving in a Land Rover in the vicinity of the Krueger National Park on August 1, Switzerland’s national holiday. The accident occurred in the Phalaborwa area, about 450 km north of Johannesburg. The vehicle where Carter was a passenger and which friends and his wife were apparently following, was reported to have gone out of control due to a defective tire. The car then crashed into a river bed and rolled over.

The news reports were contradictory. At first, it was announced that Carter died in the evening and later that both passengers were killed instantly. According to initial reports, it was Carter who was driving at the wheel. Later, it was reported that a friend of Carter’s was driving the car and later that a native South African was behind the wheel. The Limpopo police spokesperson in South Africa then issued the statement: “Carter and the driver, a South African, were killed instantly when the roof of their vehicle was crushed in.”

Silvia Carter explained what really happened. “My husband was in the car with a very good friend of ours. We were driving ahead of them and they were following behind us. The vehicle did not have a defective tire. Our friend had to swerve to avoid a minibus that was heading directly at them. Such risky passing maneuvers are unfortunately a daily occurrence in South Africa. In order to avoid a frontal collision, he pulled off onto the ‘accident lane.’ The fateful thing was that a bridge was coming and they had to pull back onto the tarred lane. The speed as well as the difference in surfaces—the natural surface and the tarred surface—that the wheels had to deal with spun the Land Rover. It broke through the bridge railing and landed about three meters below on its roof.”

Federer received the shocking news courtside at the Tennis Masters Series event in Toronto. He was never so upset in his life. Carter was a good friend and the most important coach in his career.

Although Federer lost already in the first round in Toronto, but was still playing in the doubles tournament partnering with Wayne Ferreira, ironical­ly, a South African. The mood was grim for the third-round doubles match, which Federer and Ferreira lost to Joshua Eagle and Sandon Stolle. Federer played the match wearing a black armband in honor of Carter. His eyes were red. He nonetheless announced after the doubles loss that he was prepared to give an interview. “We spent a lot of time together, since I was a boy,” Federer said of his relationship with Carter. “I saw him everyday when I was a boy. It’s terrible…He died so young and unexpectedly.” Federer said that the two always had a connection and they were born under the same Zodiac sign—he was born on August 8, the coach one day later. “Peter was very calm but he was also funny with a typical Australian sense of humor. I can never thank him enough for everything that he gave to me. Thanks to him I have my entire technique and coolness.”

Carter watched Federer play for the first time when Roger was a kid in the 1990’s and exuberantly told his parents in the Barossa Valley in Australia that he had discovered a gigantic talent who could go a long way. He worked with him for all but two years until 2000 and led him to his storied success in the world junior ranks as well as to a top 50 world ranking. After Federer chose Lundgren as his private coach, Carter remained a coach with the Swiss Tennis Federation and took up responsibilities in promoting new talent in men’s tennis. He married Silvia von Arx from Basel in May of 2001.

Carter was the players’ favored choice as Davis Cup team captain for a long time. However, when his wife suffered from lymph node cancer, Carter put his coaching duties on hold until Silvia’s recovery was certain. Since Carter was not a Swiss citizen with a Swiss passport, he was not permitted, as Davis Cup captain, to sit with the players on the court or assume the role as the “official” Davis Cup captain. However, the International Tennis Federation, agreed to recognize him as a Swiss citizen and as the official Davis Cup cap­tain as soon as he acquired a resident permit, which he was scheduled to receive in September of 2003. Carter led the team only once, in February of 2002 in Moscow.

Federer left Toronto for Cincinnati where, like in Paris, Wimbledon and Toronto, he lost in the first round. He couldn’t concentrate. He no longer had confidence in his game and tennis was no longer fun. His thoughts were with Peter Carter. “When something like this happens,” he said, “you see how really unimportant tennis is.” He pulled the emergency brake. He withdrew from the doubles event in Cincinnati and pulled out of the next week’s event in Washington, D.C., and flew home to Switzerland.

The funeral took place on August 14, 2002 on a warm summer’s day in the Leonhard Church in Basel. About 200 people were in attendance to bid farewell, among them many familiar faces in the tennis world. Carter’s friend from his youth, Darren Cahill, who was now coaching Andre Agassi, was also present. The simple ceremony, accompanied by music, was conducted by the same clergyman who married the Carters a year before. Silvia Carter gave a brief, touching speech, as did a friend who came from Australia, Davis Cup physiotherapist Caius Schmid and Christine Ungricht, the President of Swiss Tennis. “He was such a great person,” she said. “Why him? Why does it always happen to the best?”

Federer’s parents were also inconsolable. Carter formed a link to their son over the years. He informed them about everything concerning Roger when they were traveling together. “It was the first death Roger had to deal with and it was a deep shock for him,” his mother said. “But it has also made him stronger.”

Federer left the church with a sense of grief that he never before experienced in his life. “Any defeat in tennis is nothing compared to such a moment,” he explained weeks afterwards. “I usually try and avoid sad events like this. It was the first time that I’d been to a funeral. I can’t say that it did me good but I was close to him in thought once again and I could say goodbye in a dignified setting. I feel somewhat better now, especially in matters concerning tennis.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m completely excited

STARS

BNP Paribas Open

(First Week)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat second-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-4

Petra Cetkovska beat third-seeded Elena Dementieva 7-6 (2) 2-6 6-1

Urszula Radwanska beat sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 4-6 6-3

John Isner beat ninth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-4

Shahar Peer beat tenth-seeded Marion Bartoli 1-6 6-4 7-5

Other Tournaments

John McEnroe beat Jim Courier 6-2 6-3 to win the Rio Champions Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

SAYING

“Today one person came up to me asking me if I’m the sister for Marat. I’m like, ‘yeah.’ (And they said) ‘are you playing tennis?’ And I look at them like, well, ‘OK, yes, I’m also a tennis player.’ I’m still, I think, known more as his sister.” – Dinara Safina, who is ranked number two in the world.

“Everything is wrong. I need a lot of work. I wish I had a magic wand and could just fix my game and just play awesome tennis again. I would like it to be that way, but sometimes it’s not.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Anastasia Pavyluchenkova.

“I’m excited. As long as you win you’re happy. But I tried not to be very overexcited because I still have to continue in this tournament.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after beating Jelena Jankovic.

“I’m completely excited. I’ve been thinking about something like this happening for the last two or three years. So for me, this is not a massive shock. But when it does happen (that) your girlfriend (or) wife is pregnant, it definitely changes your mindset.” – Roger Federer, revealing his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with their first child.

“They talk about the age, but nowadays in the US 50 is the new 40. … I saw the other guys who are younger and how they were with their backs, calves, knees hurt, and here I am, happy that I am standing. I know that if I were doing what I was doing today when I was playing the pro tour, being serious about my physical conditioning, I could have won many more titles in my career.” – John McEnroe, after winning a senior tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We asked them to be moved here to the Philippines because of the safety of our players and because of recent events in Pakistan, especially the cricket team of Sri Lanka getting attacked.” – Randy Villanueva, Philippine Law Tennis Association vice president, saying its Davis Cup tie against Pakistan should be moved.

“My chances are really small. What Rod Laver did was amazing. But at the same time it was a little bit easier in that moment than right now because in that moment I think they only had two different surfaces (grass and clay). Now we have three, and Australia and the US Open are not exactly the same.” – Rafael Nadal, playing down his chances of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments this year.

“I’m just going to focus on myself at this tournament, but that (number two) is the reward for the success that I’ve had this year. I’ve played in three tournaments and been in two finals. There is only one person in front of me and this is something big.” – Dinara Safina, who can become number one in the world by reaching the final of the BNP Paribas in Indian Wells, California.

“I probably didn’t find the answer to this question. I found the answer to the other question, which was do I want to stop, which was no. It was already quite a challenge when it happened in the summer of 2007, where I really asked myself whether I want to keep going or not. I didn’t find the answer quickly. It took me a few months to really feel that for some reason, I don’t have enough.” – Amelie Mauresmo, when asked why she keeps pushing herself at this stage of her career.

“I’m just playing tennis for myself and I always have put my health as a priority to everything. Tennis is probably my life at this moment, but it’s not the only thing in my life.” – Novak Djokovic, denying that he is a quitter because he withdrew from his Australian Open match because of heat exhaustion.

“As you get older, you start to understand that you’re not going to feel perfect every week and you try and find a way to get through the first couple of matches.” – Andy Murray.

“I learned a lot about my game and I learned it’s not all about rising. It’s also about learning how to fall and learning how to lose without being truly defeated, and that’s something that I want to take as a positive from last year and try to build up.” – Ana Ivanovic.

“Yes, it’s a dream job, and in tennis we have a very small window both as players and as coaches to make a mark. You make a lot of selfish decisions. But every time I pack the bags and walk out the door, it gets harder and harder.” – Darren Cahill, noting the need to travel almost constantly has kept him from coaching Roger Federer.

“On the court I’m a fighter. I will do anything to win. Outside, I’m actually very, very nice.” – Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who is ranked number 11 in the world.

“I just wanted to test (the shoulder) out. I started training a couple of months ago. I just wanted to … test it out in a match situation and get a little different scenery than the practice court and play in front of the crowd, so that was exciting. The main goal for here was just to get out there and be in that atmosphere again.” – Maria Sharapova, after playing and losing her doubles match.

SAFINA TO THE TOP

If Dinara Safina reaches the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, she will supplant Serena Williams in the number one spot in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The 22-year-old Safina lost to Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Neither Serena nor her sister Venus Williams are competing at Indian Wells, continuing their boycott of the tournament. They last played Indian Wells in 2001, where they were booed after Venus pulled out of her semifinal match against Serena at the last moment, saying she was injured. Serena Williams has won the last two Grand Slam tournament titles, the US and Australian Opens.

SWITCH IN ACTION

The Philippines might not have to go to Pakistan for its next Davis Cup competition. An International Tennis Federation (ITF) spokesman said the tie could me moved from Lahore, Pakistan, because of security concerns. Gunmen recently attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore, killing seven Pakistanis and wounding six players. Three of the Filipino players, including Cecil Mamitt, are dual US-Philippine citizens who may be targeted because of their American passports, according to Randy Villanueva, vice president of the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association. Pakistan’s first-round Asia/Oceania Group Two tie against Oman was moved from Lahore to Muscat, Oman, because of security concerns. Pakistan won the tie 4-1, advancing to July’s tie against the Philippines.

SHARAPOVA BACK – SOMEWHAT

Maria Sharapova returned to competitive tennis for the first time in seven months, but her stay was very brief. The Russian was forced off the WTA Tour last August with a torn rotator cuff. She underwent surgery on her right shoulder two months later. She teamed with Elena Vesnina to play doubles at the BNP Paribas Open, but the pair lost their first-round match to Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek 6-2 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak). Sharapova said she entered the doubles because she wanted to test her shoulder in a match situation and in front of a crowd.

SIDELINED

A hip-bone injury has sidelined Carlos Moya. The 32-year-old won the French Open in 1998 and was ranked number one in the world the next year. But he is suffering from a lesion to a tendon and ischium on his hip-bone. “It’s still too early to know when I’ll be able to return to competition,” Moya said. “It’s certain that I want to return, but only when I’m firing at 100 percent physically and mentally.”

SOLD OUT

The return of four stars – Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman – will be a sellout. All the tickets for their exhibition matches on Wimbledon’s new Centre Court in May were sold out in just five minutes. There will be men’s and women’s singles matches and a mixed doubles match as officials test the new roof and ventilation system in front of a capacity crowd.

ST. LOUIS BOUND

Wimbledon won’t be the only stop for Kim Clijsters. The Belgian will play two matches for the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis League. She will make her WTT debut July 21 in St. Louis and will play in Philadelphia on July 22. Once ranked number one in the world, Clijsters retired from the WTA Tour in May 2007 and gave birth to a daughter last year. Others who will compete in the WTT this July include Andre Agassi, sisters Venus and Serena Williams, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.

STOPPED BY INJURY

A left heel injury caused Nikolay Davydenko to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Seeded fifth, the Russian had a first-round bye. His spot was taken by lucky loser Olivier Patience of France, who promptly lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-3

STUDYING

When she’s not on the tennis court, Vera Zvonareva is focusing on something else. The Russian has been studying at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hopes someday to be working with the United Nations. She enrolled in the school in 2007 when a wrist injury forced her off the tour for half the season. Zvonareva already has a university degree in physical education and is studying international economic relations and international affairs. “I got to know and meet a few ambassadors around the world and a few influential people and a few people who work for the UN,” Zvonareva said. “It’s great to be involved in something like this and also to give me a lot of different knowledge outside the court. I’m really enjoying it.”

SECURITY

The European Court of Justice sided with a tennis player who was kicked off his flight when airport security said he posed a terrorist threat because he was carrying his racquets. The judges ruled that the unpublished European Union register of hand luggage restrictions could not be enforced because passengers had no way of knowing exactly what was prohibited. The EU list shows that racquets are not specifically banned from the cabin, but the list contains a catch-all prohibition on “any blunt instrument capable of causing injury.” Gottfried Heinrich of Austria was on his way to a tournament when he was thrown off a flight at the Vienna airport in 2005 after having already cleared general security screening. One legal adviser called it the “fundamental absurdity” of European anti-terror regulations that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin, but refused to make the list public for security reasons.

SENIOR CITIZEN

When the Outback Champions Series shows up in Surprise, Arizona, in October for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Andre Agassi will be in the field of eight. Agassi is the first player announced for the 2009 tournament for players age 30 and over. John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise, defeating Todd Martin in the final.

SWISS PAPA

Roger Federer and his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec are expecting their first child. The baby is due in the summer. “This is a dream come true for us,” Federer wrote on his Web site. “We love children and we are looking forward to being parents for the first time. Mirka is feeling great and everything is going well.”

SPOTLIGHT ON WHEELCHAIRS

The International Tennis Hall of Fame will begin inducting wheelchair athletes and administrators into the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine this year. Founded in 1976, wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, helped by the fact it can be played on any regular tennis court with no modifications to racquets and balls. The rules are also the same, with one exception: wheelchair tennis players are allowed two bounces of the ball. The wheelchair category is in addition to the traditional Hall of Fame induction categories of Recent Players, Master Players and Contributors.

SEEKING HELP

Retired player Wayne Black has urged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to help develop young talent in his home country of Zimbabwe. Black, who had been coaching in London since retiring from the doubles circuit in 2005, said he now intends to help develop players in Zimbabwe. Since the retirement from Davis Cup by Black, his older brother Byron Black and tour doubles partner Kevin Ullyett, the Zimbabwe team has fallen from the World Group to the Euro/Africa Zone groups. His sister, Cara Black, is ranked number one in the world in doubles on the WTA Tour.

SAYONARA

Tennis Week is ceasing publication as a magazine after 35 years. Begun by International Tennis Hall of Famer Eugene Scott, the magazine was acquired by IMG in 2006 after Scott’s death. While it no longer will publish the magazine, it will continue providing news online at www.tennisweek.com. Calling it a “strategic restructuring,” Tennis Week said the move will not include any layoff of its staff.

SPONSOR WOES

The reason the ATP will be rebating USD $3 million to tournaments as “financial relief” is because the men’s tour failed to line up a tour-wide sponsor to replace Mercedes-Benz. The sponsor money goes directly into the pockets of the tournaments. However, if the tour gets a new global sponsor, those tournaments that take the rebate money will not get any of the new sponsor dollars.

SURPRISE

When Pauline Callaghan celebrated her 90th birthday in Sydney, Australia, a surprise guest showed up. Mrs. Callaghan’s five children arranged for a surprise phone call for their mother. While talking to Evonne Goolagong Cawley on her mobile phone, Mrs. Callaghan looked up to see the former world number one player and her husband Roger Cawley walking towards her. Goolagong has known the Callaghan family since she was in primary school. She began calling Mrs. Callaghan “mum” when a spectator asked if Goolagong was her daughter. Callaghan’s oldest son, Tony, 62, played Wimbledon five times and has coached a number of players, including Brad Drewett, Wally Masur, Jelena Dokic, Sandon Stolle and Samantha Stosur.

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard

Mark Keil: My Heart-Pounding Moment With Renee Zellweger

Mark Keil, the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Newbury College, Brookline, Mass, writes this week on one of the best event’s of the year, and an out of the way tourney in beautiful Spain.

The ATP event in Los Angeles is a much needed bonus on the road to the Open. The tournament is played in Westwood, and the tournament hotel is like being in a movie. I played singles qualifying there a few times, and went down in a thriller to Michael Joyce of Bel Air, California. He got to the fourth round of Wimbledon one year, and is currently the coach/hitting partner of Russia’s Maria Sharapova. I also played doubles qualies with Craig Johnson, a double-fisted forehand and backhand player and All-American out of Pepperdine. We lost in the final round, and would have gotten in but I think Craig was cruising the beach at the time, and I couldn’t find him. In between matches, I would have a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s on Beverly Glen and I met Renee Zellweger once. She said her brother was a tennis player, and it was a heart pounding moment. I also would hang out with a high school friend of mine, Shelley McCrory. She was a vice president of NBC Comedy, and it felt cool to eat with someone in the business. In doubles, I qualifed in 2000 with the Arizona State University standout Jeff Williams. We beat the doubles Olympian for Great Britain Kyle Spencer and the All-American out of Clemson Mitch Sprengelmeyer 7-6, 6-4. In the next round, we lost to Paul Kilderry, a humorous fellow from Australia. He was Patrick Rafter’s cohort, and had a sweet backhand. His partner, Sandon Stolle, who played high school tennis in Miami and attended TCU, was a tall, deep baritoned voice rail thin Aussie man (and the son of Hall of Famer Fred Stolle).

Before the match, I attended a barbecue at Dustin Hoffman’s Brentwood home with former player Derrick Rostagno. We lost 4-6,4-6. After the match, I crashed a party at the Playboy Mansion and made a fool of myself. I spotted Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards, but they didn’t see me. All in all, it was a very manic week.

The event played in Segovia, Spain is on hard court’s that had dimples on them.  The match’s were played when the sun was setting, and it was a high altitude affair.  The venue had marquee tent’s set up around the stadium court, with attractive Spanish women dressed in their summer white’s handing out free sample’s of stuff. In this challenger event, I beat Nuno Marques of Portugal and lost to Jose-Antonio Fernandez of Chile 3-6, 6-7.  I had a good time there, but the restaurant’s opened so late and it was tough to sleep after eating.

I hope everyone is hitting the courts, and getting ready for the Olympics!

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