A True story by Herold Super.
Living in the so called ‘ Gold Coast Area’ at the Lake of Zürich, Switzerland – we say ‘Oligarch County’-Surrounded by at least 35.000 Millionaires…..
On a sunny day, the very pretty moms drive their Range Rovers…Pretty daughters their Mini Coopers and dad in his Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche Old Timer along the boulevards at the Lake. For lunch, they meet in the ‘Leue Gärtli’ on the waterfront in Meilen, ‘Frascati’ in Zürich or in one of the hundred fine restaurants around the lake. A spaghetti Bolognese with salat and a drink is served for a ‘robbery on your wallet’ price, for any ‘Not Swiss Citizen’.
It’s mid-January 2005. The Stork International Tennis Europe U-14 Trophy, Cat.2 Tournament, Entry List has been published on the Tennis Europe Website. The Tournament has reached a high appreciation standard with the players and coaches on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour. As the founder and tournament director, I get a call from Moscow…. ‘Ello? Ziss iss Nataaasha from Moscow… Mr. Zuper???’ You could imagine the beauty of this ‘Natasha from Moscow’ by her sexy voice. She wanted me to reserve the Presidential Suite, a Junior Suite and a Single Room at the five-star Hermitage Hotel in Kusnacht at the Lake….. ‘Ziss iss for my Bosss and hisss Zon and the coach. One week! And a Mercedes 500 SEL, Chauffeur-driven…… ‘No hospitality’ I counter,’ the boy has to play Qualification! ( the Cut MD was somewhere at TE 85 that year). You have to reserve your request yourself Natasha. – We, the organizers, ending up with the bill of at least 30.000 Euro…..the fish disappeared….? No way!!! – ‘I will E-Mail you all the info you need!’ ‘Thank you Mr. Zuuperrr’.
Thursday, mid-February, Sign In Quali is tomorrow, Friday between 4 and 6pm. A clearly sharp dressed Man with the posture of a Russian Bear, accompanied by a big boy for a U-14 and an ‘Adidas Track-Suit Wearing Former Box-Champion’ walk into Sportcenter Stork.
‘Good afternoon Mr. Super, I’m Mr. A and this is my son B and his coach C. We are from Moscow. My secretary spoke to you on the phone. We would like a practice court?’ He was lucky. Somebody cancelled their reservation. One of the seven Indoor Courts was free at 6pm. Right next to me where I was coaching…
It didn’t take long for me to figure this boy out. Big, slow, poor technique based on power. Not good enough for the Main Draw. The ‘poor’ boy had to play a strong player from Germany in the Quali. Saturday morning at 9 am…. At 10 am, the 6-0, 6-0 for the German was on the score board…..The Russian bear turned to me and said: ‘OK! We take a week of vacation in beautiful Switzerland! How far is it to St. Moritz???’
Behind him stands a man in his fifties, no more teeth and looking like one of the Clochards, you find underneath the bridges of the Seine. He was from Bosnian Herzegovina. The Balkan War ended only a couple of years ago, leaving the people with nothing….. Yesterday, during the Sign In, he walked into the Tournament Office with his Son. I first thought ‘he’ was a ‘she’…… long hair, very fine features in his face, sparkling eyes, moving like a Jaguar, not too big. ‘Excuse me Mr. Super? We are from Bosnian Herzegovina and I want to ask, can my boy be Alternate on Sight?’ His English sounded well… ‘Just sign-in and we can tell you at 6 pm!’
God has its own ways to deal with its Angels. The boy entered the Quali…..
6 pm Friday evening. It was snowing outside. Minus 10 degrees Celsius, freezing! The father without teeth asked me: ’Can he put his tent up outside? They don’t have money for accommodation…..And if he helps in the restaurant collecting the plates of the Guests and do dish-washing, can he get the ‘left overs’ for him and his Son??’
One hour after the Sign-In had closed I went onto the parking lot. I hear somebody hitting a ball against a wall. It is the boy from Bosnia…. ‘I still have a spot free on a practice court. You can have it, if you want to? I organize you a partner!’ His eyes were shining……. I continue: ‘I have a Squash Box, heated, for you and your dad tonight. We will put some blankets in there!’ He reacted very humble…’Thank you, but we can sleep in our tent….?’ ‘No Ways’, I counter ‘you freeze to death tonight…’
It’s 10 am Saturday morning. The Russian bear says Goodbye. Mr. ’no teeth’ takes the moment: ‘Thank you very very much for everything Mr. Super. When my boy qualifies for the MD, can he get free meals?’ He doesn’t know that I was already in the Office at 7 am that morning and I gave his son practice balls to hit against the Wall inside…. One of our coaches is also early there with his 8-year-old son. The boy from Bosnia asks whether the boy would like to hit a couple of balls with him? Flattered by this invitation, the little boy gives all he’s got. I can see what kind of diamond hides in the boy from Bosnia… I tell his dad: ‘He qualifies? I give you free hospitality!’
The boy crashes all his opponents…. In the Semi Final Main Draw his legs cannot help him anymore… In a 3-set fight, he almost collapses but doesn’t give up, he finally has to capitulate.
It was the End of a Beginning!
5 years later the boy becomes U-18 European Champion and now DAMIR DZUMHUR is one of the most respected players on the ATP Tour.
What ever happened to the Oligarch Son? Most probably Junior Oligarch……..
Damir Dzumhur as a 15 year old
Written by Herold Super, Sunday 9th of July 2017