Re: "Tribute to an outstanding young man"
This text, based on an interview with Mathieu Montcourt, was supposed to be the first entry of Mathieu's blog for the website. Mathieu was about to ratify it...
Tribute to an outstanding young man.
Tennis and me
Tennis has always been part of my family: my grand-father played tennis and my father gave tennis lessons at the club of Ivry before he became its president. I learnt how to play tennis almost as soon as I could walk: I was already holding a tennis racquet at the age of 3 or 4. I remember that I got to love it very quickly and it was hard when I had to leave the court. I never left it, in the end!
When I was 7 years old, the tennis league of the Val-de-Marne noticed me. Eric Capitini became my coach. When he was offered a job at the tennis club of Maison-Alfort, I followed him. I stayed there 5 years and that's where I met my tennis partner and best friend, Matthieu Leboucher.
By the age of 12, I entered the Collège Jean-de-la-Fontaine opposite the Roland-Garros stadium. Like all my classmates, I had a special timetable: classes in the morning, training in our respective disciplines (tennis, music, dance, etc.) in the afternoon. I wasn't ready yet to leave my family to enter the national training system.
I entered the INSEP when I was 15 years old. I met all the "big names" of tennis there: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, whom I shared a room with during 2-3 years, also Gaël Monfils... I started playing tournaments in France and in Europe.
I decided to really go into tennis when I was 18 years old. I left school before taking the "baccalauréat" exam and I gave up on my passion for handball. From then on, I've trained with the French Tennis Association in Roland-Garros.
From 2004 to 2007, I was a member of the Racing Club de France. When it became the Lagardère Paris Racing, it wasn't possible to be part of the FFT and of a private club at the same time, so I joined the club Primrose of Bordeaux which was interested in my profile.
Talking about my game
I am a "consistent player", with a great stamina. But I don't have a "big weapon", a crazily strong shot which would make the difference on the court. Actually, my strong point is that I don't have any weak point and my weak point is that I don't have any strong point.
I'm still lacking mental strength. I question myself a lot and I continually go through periods of self-doubts and lack of confidence. Maybe because I'm a big perfectionist, or because I don't have an oversized ego. When I lose a few matches in a row, my confidence vanishes and it shows in my game.
I belong to the generation of champions like Tsonga, Monfils, etc. I don't compare myself with them and with their game, I'm not envious. On the contrary, their career is a motivation, I say to myself that I can do it too, that I will. I have skills, I have talent, I work a lot, especially on the mental side of the game. That's the area where I can improve the most in order to become a real champion!
Tennis and me
Being a tennis player is no bed of roses every day. There are a lot of sacrifices and disappointments in tennis. It's an individual sport, which heightens rivalries. One has to learn to not trust everybody. Fortunately, I've developed very strong friendships with a few players whom I trust entirely.
I've had and I still have some hard blows in my career. Sometimes you wonder if it's worth having this way of life, always travelling to tournaments, not seeing your family and your friends much. But I've never considered giving up. It hasn't even crossed my mind, actually. I love tennis way too much: I'm crazy about tennis, a real fan! Above all, I love that feeling when you win a match, it gives me the biggest feeling of happiness.
I have some very sweet memories in tennis. The best ones? Those I shared with friends. Like the French team Championships in Blois with my best friend Matthieu Leboucher, we made it to the best 3 twice in a row (3rd and 2nd). Or the team Championships with Bordeaux last year: it was intense and it made sense to share the victory with my teammates.
My passions for sports, art, travel...
Tennis isn't the only thing in my life: there also are sports in general, art, travel... Like tennis, sports have been part of my life since I'm a child. My grand-father was a judo teacher, he took me to tournaments. I really was surrounded by that. I'm a big handball fan too: before I chose tennis, I played 4 years at the IS Ivry club which is one of the best handball clubs. I also played football during a few years and I still play from time to time with friends.
If I was surrounded by sports on my grand-father's and father's side, I discovered art with my mother who used to paint a lot when I was a kid. I have a soft spot for contemporary art, pop art and Liechtenstein, also for more classical painters like Caillebotte... I'm always eager to enrich and deepen my education in arts by reading (I've subscribed to two arts magazines) and going to museums. My favourites? Orsay, Beaubourg, L'Hermitage in St-Petersburg. I also listen to music a lot: alternative rock or French singers from the time of my grand-parents. It comes from my childhood, when my grand-father was taking me to the judo tournaments and we were listening to Georges Brassens, Serge Reggiani or Leo Ferré. I'm also a photography and video fan and I always come back from my travels with memories in pictures.
I love travelling, discovering new cultures, new countries. That's fortunate: I often play abroad. I try to make the most out of my time there to visit, the camera across my shoulder, to take photos, to film the places I love. Like Sydney: the beaches, the architecture (the Harbourg Bridge, the Opera...) are superb and people there don't have the same faults as in the US. Or Bangkok in Thailand, where I really fell in love with the culture, the people, the temples.... I like to keep tracks of my travels and to remember those times when I'm back in Paris, to share them with my family and my friends who are not so lucky and can't travel as much as I do.
The fans and me
I have quite a few fans and websites or blogs about me on the Internet. It's heart-warming to know that some people acknowledge my talent and support me. How do I explain it? Because of my game, I guess. Tennis fans are starting to know me, I played a couple of times on Center courts, against famous players. I guess I also have a look, a haircut, a style which appeal to some girls. I remember a fan who was sending anonymous letters to me, at my place, at the place of my parents, of my grand-parents. She always knew where I was. I eventually got in touch with her: she told me that she was married, she had fallen under my spell and had loads of photos of me at home.
My plans for the future...
It will all depend on my career: the better I play, the more opportunities I'll have. My dream? Conciliate my passions for art and for fine food too. All this travelling around, eating at restaurants, discovering different kinds of food gave me a few ideas! I'd also like to just enjoy being with the people I love, my family, my friends. But I still have time to think about that...
Last edited by Truc; 07-31-2009 at 02:53 PM.