The tennis player Stefan Edberg is nowadays a legend in his sport. I met him myself in France in 1987. I was 8 years old. He and the other members of the Swedish Daviscup team were playing the Daviscup against France. However, before the training I met them in the lobby of their hotel in Frjus. My father knew the Swedish captain of the team so we could watch them training.After that Stefan has been one of my idols. I play tennis a lot myself. But now to the story about Stefan Edberg.
Saw the ad
His career started when the local paper in Vstervik ( the town where he was born ) had an advertisement about mini-tennis in the early 70s. It said Day of tennis.Luckily his mother Barbro read the article and liked it. The day after she sent her son to the tennis-school for beginners. At that time she didn’t know how important this initiative would be to Stefan, to Swedish tennis and even to the world tennis. An incredible athletic career had seen the morning light.
Was convinced to continue
The seven year old Stefan struck his first hits at the tennis school in the sommer of 1973. To start with he played once a week. He liked his new sport but was close to quitting after the first term. -My friend wanted to quit,and so did I. But my trainer convinced me to continue, Stefan says with a smile on his face. The young Edberg soon became taken by the sport. Soon he played matches with the boys’ team, and outside his home he played fantasy Davis Cup-matches. In the sommer holidays he almost lived at the tennis court. At the age of ten he stopped playing his two other sports, football and icehockey, and concentrated everything on tennis. Soon he won his first tournament, Ostkustensprla, a very memorable victory for him.
Star even in school
But a couple of years went by before he dared to go in for tennis full time. He was in the ninth grade as took the big step and gave tennis the big chance. -I felt I had a serious chance of becoming a worldplayer. Because I had just won JEM and taken a set on Mats Wilander who was a professional player, Stefan says. But it couldn’t have been an easy choice, because Stefan was also a very good student with an average about 4,3 after the ninth grade.
He was better than all the others!!!
The trainers at the club where he was training, Westerviks TK, quickly realized what a big talent this boy was. Just after a couple of years, they noticed that his way of playing tennis was different from all the great Swedes who played at that time, for an example Bjrn Borg. Stefan attacked the net, as quickly as possible,unlike the baseline players of that time. -I’ve never liked long rallys, but I’ve always had a good serve. I also grew tall pretty early so it fitted me well to go forward to the net.
His trainer encouraged him to continue to play his own game. ( I think that was pretty good ) His biggest triumphs as a junior were JEM in Nice in 1980 and a grandslam. ( Grandslam= To win all of the four biggest tournaments, Wimbledon, French Open, U.S Open and Australian Open!!! )
During high-school in the early 80s Stefan got in touch with the famous trainer Percy Rosberg, the person who had made Bjrn Borg a star. Stefan was free from school once a week to go to Stockholm to train with Percy. One of the biggest improvements Edberg made with Percy was his backhand which later became one of the best in the world. When he left school his training hours increased by 100 percent from four to eight times a week.
Tony Pickard has been Stefan’s trainer for almost his entire career. They first met in Bournemouth when Stefan was there to sign contracts with the racket- manufacturer Wilson. Tony saw him playing and invited him to his house: A famous trainer/adept couple was born. It lasted for ten years with great success.
Warned only once
During all his years at the top he always has behaved like a real gentleman, both on the court and outside it. He was always proper and correct in his way of acting. He has been warned only once. It happened in Dusseldorf, after a wrongly judged ball when he hit the ball hard to the ground. The ball bounced out into the audience and he was warned. Don’t forget that John McEnroe was lucky if he wasn’t warned at all in a match.
The big drop came
For nine years in a row he constantly was among the top five ranked players in the world. It was at the end of 1994 he slipped out of the top five. However, it was last year when the big drop came and he ended the year as the number 23 on the ranking list. He explains it himself that it’s pretty hard to keep the motivation for such a long time.
His golden years
During the years 1990-93 he had his undoubtfully best years. For two years in a row he finished as number one on the ranking lists.