DAVIS. I LOVE IT
Enjoy the pressure. Feel it, like it, savor it. You’ve worked so hard to arrive to this moment and now you are READY.
By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
The Davis Cup is different. It is something special that arrives at the end of every year bringing incredible stories full of emotion. The result of this energy that turn out epic matches. This year, Argentina’s story touched my heart.
Back in 2008, I had the most amazing emotional victory of my long career captaining Spain’s Davis Cup team over Argentina. I was immensely happy, but at the same time I also felt sad for the Argentinian team. At the ceremonial dinner that took place after the final, I look at their faces and could see the grief in their eyes. It was a reflection of the disappointment of the most amazing crowd I have ever seen in a tennis match. The Argentina has by far the best fan base in the world. In the end, they accepted the defeat and were so respectful that gave us a standing ovation. I was moved by this gesture and on that day I became a fan of Argentina. I rooted, dreamed, and wished for them to win and have their hearts forget the loss in the 2008 finals. In a way this was natural as I was close to some of their players and coaches. I knew Juan Monaco from his two years training at my academy in Barcelona. You might not know it, but I also grew up with Martin Jaite, Argentina’s captain from 2011 to 2014.
Argentina made us wait eight years for them to win the cup. However, before they could do it, they had to fight through some tough times. But as in life, tennis will provide you with opportunities. By fighting through adversity, you always improve. And Argentina faced a lot of adversity as they lost again to Spain in the 2011 final and reached the semifinals in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. They were so close every year.
Well, in 2016 they achieved the impossible. Daniel Orsanic, the man who replaced Jaite, found the way to bring his players to a state of grace. His manners, know how, spirit and inspiration made a difference and allowed the team to play freely and without limitations. He really did a fantastic job and what sets this achievement apart is that it marked the first time that a country won without having any players in the top 20. While many will say that Juan Martín del Potro has the potential to be in the Top 5, Orsanic was able to bring him to the next level. When faced without a traditional doubles team, Orasnic gambled that Delpo could be the solution and he was right. The Argentinian captain was wise enough to envision his team with Delpo. He was one of the few people that believed Delpo could come back from his wrist injuries and regain top form. Orsanic invested his time, energy, and expertise to support Juan Martín del Potro in his comeback. Looking back, I believe that the Rio Olympics helped them connect and provide them with an incredible ride that allowed their relationship to grow. Additionally, the injury setbacks during the previous three years taught Delpo to be grateful with his career.
This past year I had the chance to see Delpo on his return to the tour in Delray. We chatted for a bit and he took a picture with my son. This was in contrast with a meeting I had with him four years earlier. Then he rejected my request for a photo. While this might not be seen as significant, I believe that the adversity that he had to face due to his injuries not only made him a better player but also a better person. It is said that the game of tennis is a reflection of who you are. Delpo has evolved and his speech after winning the Davis Cup inspired me and I shared it with my son. Delpo has learned that what he loves is the fight and during the past six months he has had more prolonged fights and comebacks than in all of his career. Along with this came maturity and he became a leader with his performances inspiring his teammates: Delbonis, Pella, Mayer, Monaco, Olivo. He created an energy that was contagious spreading to the team, crowd, and press. Everyone began to believe, the Hinchada suffered during the final round and they played a big role by never giving up. When JMDP was playing, you could feel his followers’ presence and when it came to the must-win third set they were part of Delpo’s fight. It was as if the Argentian fans were playing alongside him. This is a great lesson for other countries to learn, how to inject energy and passion into your players. It was exceptional tennis.
While watching the match with my emotional state attached to the TV, I went back in time. I was not even able to send tweets as I was consumed with the match and had flashes from my team’s final 2008 in Argentina. Feliciano Lopez’s words came to my mind: “This crowd is so amazing that even when they sing using bad words, they do it so well that they give me goose bumps.” What a crowd, all these anxiously years waiting, and while at the edge of the precipice they were singing, believing, waiting for the miracle to happen, thinking about the past with Vilas, Clerc, Jaite, Mancini, Nalbandian, Coria and Gaudio. So many championship opportunities but that cup was slippery and never grasped. Nevertheless, they persevered and helped turn things away. In soccer, Spain had a similar scenario and after years of disappointment they finally got their cup. I believe that when you work hard, believe in yourself and combine this with talent, there is an energy created that makes things go your way. You become luckier, and opportunities arise. With this energy you can make history. Argentina was ready to take advantage of the Croatian players mistakes and their amazing run will forever change the mindset of these players and will have a lasting effect on their country’s tennis.
We saw this past year through the Argentinian team and their fan base how to enjoy the pressure, feel it, savor it, so that when your moment arrives, you are READY. Orsanic, Delpo, Delbo, … you will be remembered as the warriors that brought a first Davis Cup to your well-deserved fans.
I am so happy for my “brothers” from that country. Argentina has two motherlands, Italy and Spain, creating an explosive mix. In Buenos Aires, they refer to them as Gallegos and Tanos. Together they have so much passion that they don’t let you be indifferent, either you love them or hate them. I am inspired by your recent feats and as a proud Gallego fan I congratulate you!
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy