here is finally the story at tennisweek...they started to write it but then said i should write it 'first person' instead.
Wow, I didnt know the part about you chatting with a player who was also chatting with guille! That's terrific, would have been great for the story! jaja... i guess we'll just have to deal with it as-is, however!!
Coria And The Girl Who Made Paper Birds Take Flight
By Stavo Craft
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Every once in a while, there is a story of how tennis reaches outside the lines and bleeds into peoples lives in ways you might never expect. Such a story began to unfold when I received an email a month ago at KingCoria.com, a site I created as a way for English-language fans and media to get the kinds of detail about a magician of tennis, Guillermo Coria, which would otherwise only be available to the Spanish-speaking public.
Little did I know how creating that bridge would open the door to the kind of drama that has taken place over the course of the last few weeks. Considering this story also concerns a player who has now been out of the limelight for as long as his three-year run in the top ten of men’s tennis, it is an especially moving testament to the unusual degree of impact the Argentine maestro has engendered. While Guillermo Coria has not reached a semifinal round match since 2005, the bridge he has already built reaches across continents.
Proof arrived on February 27, when I received an email out of the blue, and like many things we get on the web telling stories of woe, I thought it was a prank or a virus. But as I read the letter over, and then over again, I began to believe it was entirely real. The details were too specific, and the desperation a little too palpable.
A woman was writing from Japan that her young daughter had cancer, and that doctors said she had only one month to live. During her time in the hospital, the daughter had been watching match tapes from three and four years prior of Coria's inventive brand of racquet-magic trickery, and using it as inspiration for her own battle; a call and a will to fight.
Knowing Coria was also out with troubles of his own over the past few years, she proceeded, even in her own state of peril, to sit in her bed watching Guillermo’s resourceful play, while making 1,000 paper origami birds. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand cranes will be granted a wish to bring good luck.
Out of respect for the privacy of the family, I will not divulge much of the details of the correspondence, or the names of those involved, but what the mother desired was to grant her daughter this one last dream to come true. And as she only spoke Japanese and English, the KingCoria site was her only way of making contact. She simply wanted her daughter to know she had found a way to get these handmade birds to her hero.
Since I don't have direct access to reaching Guillermo Coria, I went on a trial-laden search of non-answers from a number of sources I had been in touch with over the years. I had largely given up, though I did connect the mother to the Vilas Racquet Club in Buenos Aires where Guille is known to spend time practicing, but the language barrier there stood in the way of any real communication.
As the month came nearly to an end, something made me go back to the email, and although I had already tried to reach a contact I had at Forocoria — a Spanish language site where Coria himself had posted messages to fans in the past — I decided to make one last ditch effort by approaching someone from Argentina that I often tennis chat with, who I also knew was connected to that website. Likewise judging that the content of the email was for real, he put me in touch with the site moderator, Barbara Hopital.
Barbara is the real hero in this, as when I finally reached her, she held strongly to the conviction, "We must make her dream come true!" and she sent out a litany of emails to track down El Mago. As he naturally doesn't always respond to or read emails sent from websites, and none of us really knew where in the world (literally) he even was at this time, our prospects were uncertain. I was not even entirely sure this young girl was still alive.
But motivated by hope, in what now seems like a meteoric day, we finally REACHED Guillermo, who immediately responded by scanning personal pictures to send to this far-away fan in need, knowing there may be only days left. Barbara called the mother’s cell to share the exciting news and made arrangements to deliver the 1,000 paper cranes to El Mago. Meanwhile, Guille wrote her a personal email that Barbara could translate for her into English.
Now, in the past few days there have been times when this brave girl from Japan has not been able to wake, but at the time of writing, I am happy to say she is still holding on. But I take great consolation in knowing that she has given and received a special gift, and a brush with real magic: that divine connection of inspiration in creativity, and acknowledgment in reciprocation. Despite the hype we give to all the great contests of the world, it is on the most intimate personal stages that the real battles are waged, and what it is all really about.
Needless to say, the ball is still in the court for everyone today who is reading this. And I know I am writing in a time of questions and hardship. But for what it’s worth in a microcosm, at the cusp of a month’s end, and after weeks of futility, some adventurers found a way through. And clearly a dream came true today.
Returning finally to the earth-bound world of tennis and the battles of the day, it so happens that Mr. Coria, quite by chance, has tentatively been considering playing an indoor event (his first of 2009) in the Kyoto Challenger of Japan, which starts March 9.
And so, the story for one of our sport’s true but wandering magicians will continue from there, with thoughts from us all to a little girl who has made paper birds take flight.