We were at Larri Passos´ training center in Brazil, where Gustavo Kuerten was practicing for his last tournaments as professional. An old guy approached him and congratulated him for been such a gifted player, a real talent. He thanked the guy, always a gentleman, but as soon as he had the old man behind him, he looked at us and said: "A talent? This guy never saw me arrive in practice prior to everybody else, prepare my own court, work harder than all other players, after more than at least ten hours of practice, prepared my clay court for the next day, and be the last one to leave the training center for a life time."
We could not agree more with his idea of talent. The real talent in tennis is the capacity to work hard, with the same drive, the same intensity, the same passion, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until your last day playing tennis professionally. And that means losing social occasions, being absent on relatives birthdays, family celebrations. Even worth for most players, not recognizing a room as his own for at least 35 weeks in a year when playing the tour. And this hole story begins with most of the players when they are still playing at junior's level.
Different from team sports, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, etc., the tennis player's team works to get him in the best condition possible for his games, where he has to take all the decisions by himself, where he can not be replaced by another player, where he can not even talk to his coach. That's what makes tennis such a fantastic sport. The most difficult but also the most rewarding one. It has got magic. There is no mid term, either you have a great passion for the game, or you hate it. So again, the talented player is the one who can support an incredible amount of constant work, away from daily pleasures and social life, with lots of stamina and resilience.
TEXT BY GABRIEL PIMENTEL AND PAULO CÉSAR PIMENTEL