WA tennis firebrand Brydan Klein's brush with death
WA tennis firebrand Brydan Klein unwittingly put his life on the line last month as he claimed his first domestic Pro Tour singles title of the year.
The 21-year-old was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in both lungs after claiming the Goldfields St Ives International off the back of a semi-final appearance at Esperance and with the WA Open crown on his head.
During that run, he felt a pain in his lungs, but after a self-diagnosis on the internet, dismissed the discomfort as a temporary ailment.
But as Klein's Kalgoorlie final wore on and he vomited three times the warning bells rang.
"Somehow I won the tournament, because after three or four shots I couldn't breathe," Klein said.
"When I finished, I went and saw the doctor and they did scans and found a pulmonary embolism, blood clots, in both lungs. I had injections to try to thin the blood.
"Once I had the injections it was under control, but the doctor said I was lucky after playing intense tournaments for three weeks with that condition, that people have been known to just drop off.
"If it's not treated, the clots can get bigger and push up towards your heart, put pressure on it and cause a heart-attack."
Klein was put on blood thinner and has been sidelined until the new year, admitting he felt lucky to be alive but, after a tumultuous career since winning the 2007 junior Australian Open, also said he harboured disappointment that another promising period was cut short.
This run ended due to poor health, but two years ago, when the world's top 100 seemed in reach, he was benched due to an incident he was still regretting.
Two years ago, when the world's top 100 seemed in reach, he was benched due to an incident Klein said he still regretted.
Klein was banned by the ATP for six months for racially vilifying South African opponent Raven Klaasen with a single word that changed the course of his career.
"That was the first time I ever said that word and it'll definitely be the last," he said.
"My ranking went down, I lost my sponsorship and my image was ruined.
"If I didn't say it . . . well there's a lot of could-ofs, would-ofs, should-ofs.
"I shouldn't have done that and I'm still regretting it."
Klein was made to complete a racial vilification course to ensure the transgression was a one-off and, for those who take the time to speak to him, it is clear the outburst was out of character. It was an immature insult by a teenager who had yet to learn the weight of his words.
The repercussions continue, however. The loss of sponsorship and a rankings plummet means a good year like 2011 has Klein breaking even. With his inability to earn from playing, he has been coaching at Rockingham Tennis Club every day to fund his next tour.
Klein regrets the incident, but has moved on, refusing to give up on the top 100 berth that slipped through his grasp and, after the promising signs in form this year, he plans to be there by the time he is 23.
"I don't care (what people think of me), because I feel you have to meet someone before you judge someone, " he said.
"People have pictures in their head of what someone's like just by what they read or see ... but every single person has had a moment they regret.
"I'm ready to have a big year next year and obviously from my ranking, I'm going to have to have a miracle year to make top 100.
"By this time next year I want to have set myself up so that when I'm 23, I'm in the top 100."