Tennis stars fundraise for tsunami victims (Stuff)
12 January 2005
Tennis spectators are far too polite to shriek when a star arrives amongst them.
But former world No.1, Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero
, got the attention he was looking for as he trawled the crowds at the Heineken Open tennis tournament yesterday collecting money for tsunami victims.
The crowd in the uncovered, sun-scorched Yock Stand above the main court politely crowded around the famously shy but popular Ferrero, 24, as he moved swiftly through the crowd with a yellow bucket.
He looked a bit overwhelmed and wasn't sure where to put his eyes as spectators crowded around, most of them proffering notes.
Fenny Strickett wasn't going to miss her one chance to get up close.
After depositing her $10, she reached out and shook Ferrero's hand, waving her arms in gleeful triumph as she returned to her place. (Autograph hunters had no such luck - Ferrero didn't have time, he said, to accommodate them).
"You don't often see the players in real life," Strickett said, smiling broadly. "I was only going to put money in if someone famous was carrying it."
The collection was in aid of the United Nations Children's Fund, which had been negotiating with the Association of Tennis Professionals for its stars to become "goodwill ambassadors" when the tsunami struck Asia.
Although nothing has been concluded, players Dominik Hrbaty (Slovak Republic) and Rafael Nadal (Spain) and Mariano Zabaleta (Argentina)
were among those who touted for donations.
Unicef New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinlay, sitting courtside as Argentina's Guillermo Coria spanked Dutchman Sjeng Schalken, said that linking up with sports stars not only brought in more dollars but helped emphasise the agency's belief that sport was an important part of rebuilding self-esteem in traumatised children.