Haas Carries Concern For Injured Parents With Him
By Richard Pagliaro
In the solitary sport of tennis, Tommy Haas is now never alone when he steps onto the court. The third-ranked Haas carries concerns for his parents — who are continuing their recovery from severe injuries they suffered in a June 8th motorcycle accident in Sarasota, Florida — onto the court whenever he plays.
Like a stop-action film that continues to replay inside of his head, Haas is haunted by the crash that threatened his parents' lives. The 24-year-old Haas, who skipped Wimbledon to remain at home in Florida with his parents, earned his first win since the tragic accident when he scored a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Canadian Frederic Niemeyer in the first-round of the Tennis Masters Series-Canada in Toronto. Haas followed that victory with today's 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Sjeng Schalken.
While trying to concentrate on the match at hand, Haas concedes his parents' condition is always on his mind.
"Once I'm on the tennis court, I try to block everything out that happens in personal life," Haas said. "But this is something totally different. You don't expect it until it actually happens. You think about it every day."
The crash occurred when a truck attempting to make a left turn crashed into the Harley-Davidson motorcycle Haas had bought for his parents, Peter and Brigitte Haas. The frightening force of the crash threw the couple, who were not wearing helmets, off the bike. Fast-acting paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident and airlifted the Haas' to a St. Petersburg hospital. Peter Haas, who nearly lost his left leg as a result of the accident, spent 17 days in a coma, while Brigitte Haas was in intensive care for four days.
His parents survived the life-altering accident and now face an extensive period of rehabilitation at a hospital in Germany. Haas is hopeful his mother will starting walking again soon. Peter Haas, a former European judo champion who was a childhood classmate of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, faces rigorous rehab to regain his speech.
""My mom is doing a little better," Haas said. "She probably has a couple more weeks in hospital and then she'll slowly start walking again. My dad has a longer road ahead. They'll never be as they were, but hopefully they'll have another chance to enjoy life. That's the most important thing."
In his return to tournament tennis last week, the top-seeded Haas was upset in the first round by American Alex Bogomolov. The Australian Open semifinalist said he has struggled to regain the form he showed earlier in the season.
"It (his tennis game) goes away quickly," Haas said. "You practice so long and feel pretty comfortable out there, but once a tournament starts it is a different story."
The accident has given Haas a different perspective on tennis and he now takes a philosophical approach to his place in the sport.
"One day I can look back and say I reached No. 2 in the world. I've played great tennis and had good success so far," Haas said. "All I can do is give it my best in slams and if it's good enough to win one one year, great. If not, as long as I know I've tried my best, that's all I can ask for."