Portrait of Mohamed Lahyani
With Alami, Aynaoui, Arazi, Morocco has experienced its golden age of tennis. Mohamed Lahyani ensures succession, but from the height of his chair as a high-class international umpire.Meeting.
(...) In Tetouan, his hometown where he came to rest, Mohamed Lahyani explains that he was a thousand places from imagining to get a job like this. A second serve and some explanations are needed.
the Swedish Masters click
When his parents emigrated to Sweden, little Mohammed is a one yeear old baby. He grew up in Uppsala, a small town 70 km from Stockholm, famous for its prestigious university. The sporty teen plays basketball, volleyball and tennis, but never consider turning pro. He followed a course of sports-studies but also made culinary studies and management to help siblings, now owns a restaurant and a gym for women. It's during the Swedish Master in 1983 that something went click. "They asked me for some help. I loved my role of referee, especially when I saw Borg, Wilander and Edberg ... At that time, Sweden had great players, "he whispered, with a Tetouan accent and pearl eyes lit by passion. "I immediately liked to take decisions and decide on hot points.
Things happened very quickly. Until 1990, when he was a student, the Federation sends each summer arbitrate in local tournaments. Small tournaments on clay or carpet at Bastad or Stockholm, where he started as a linesman. "It was my summer job ", I've learned a lot. My brothers, being occupied in the restaurant, I could be absent. In 1991, he obtained a white badge, the first official recognition of the profession. Like the players, he skims the satellite and challenger tournaments to earn his stripes. Then he was selected as a linesman for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. "There I met all the federations and I was asked everywhere: Wimbledon, Roland Garros, U.S. Open ...". The major arbiters of the era, Lars Graf, Bruno Rebeu or Rudi Berger, spot him.
But the referee pro life is not a sinecure. "For many months I have undergone intensive training. Three days a week, they passed a battery of tests to learn the job. There are also behind the scenes,he admits: "Being a referee is not just the luxury of the hotel and travel, there is the loneliness that we face. Many may sink into depression. You must have a strong character and an understanding family. "
Warm voice, eagle sight and "winning smile"
Since 1993, when he won his bronze badge, he has not missed a single edition of Wimbledon. which makes it 17 consecutive Grand Slams in the temple of gray flannel! In 1995, Mohamed climbed one more step on the road to excellence: he won the silver badge which is synonymous with prestigious events to arbitrate. His voice warm and velvety voice sounds increasingly on the courts. He became familiar to the players and the public. The same year, at the tournament of Bastad, he excludes Karim Alami for throwing racket. "This is the worst decision that can be made for un umpire. But the supervisor supported me and even Karim gave me reason. In 1997, the consecration with the badge of gold, making Mohammed Lahyani one of the jewels of the arbitral body. "I travel 30 weeks for tournaments and I umpire an average of 500 matchs per year. The qualities of a good official? "Having a good vision, character and good communication with players. The technical assistance video (hawk eye), which compensates for umpiring in case of doubt, help many judges, he said "but we do have more pressure". "I am not a dictator in the field. I know when to be relaxed and when to be serious. " In over 15 years on the circuit, Mohamed Lahyani has almost never been caught napping. With his "winning smile, nod or friendly word, he has always defuse tensions between two players during the close matchs. "The most important is the respect that players give me. It makes you confident. "
Mr. 5000 matches
With more than 5000 refereed matches since the start of his career, Mohamed Lahyani has seen in his chair the greatest of the past two decades in the 90 and 00s: Edberg, Becker, Sampras, Agassi, Hewitt, Federer, Nadal, etc.. He is proud of his consistency at the highest level: "It's one thing to reach the top, quite another to stay there." When asked about the most significant matchs of his career, his response fuse: the only duel which opposited Federer to Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, "a match that changed the face of the history of tennis. Mohamed Lahyani also remembers the epic 4 hours match between Nadal and Djokovic in Madrid in May 2009: "I really do not know how I managed to stay 4 hours on the chair ... The excitement, perhaps," he jokes. Finally, he retains the great fight between Hewitt and Nalbandian in the heart of the oven at the Australian Open in January 2005, ending at 2 am. "The next day a local newspaper published an article with my picture crossing the page One".
The man has not the slightest fear of fatigue: "Every match is different. New rules appear and the excitement is still there. When I referee I feel like a pilot. He still lacks a Grand Slam final to umpire.
PS : this was a translation from a french article, sorry if there is some mistakes and BTW, this is my first post int MTF