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-Confidence an Asset
(Former World's Tennis Champion).
In thl» article, the first of a scries, Cochet looks back upon his early days on the tennis-courts. Ills keenness and enthusiasm for the game arc apparent.
Like so many others I first became in- terested in tennis during my holidays school holidays, of course, for I was only aged eight years at the time. It was not until 1920 that I played in my flrst tour- nament. This was at Lyons, where I was bom in 1901. It was a local affair, but we had Cozon, a French ranking player, and we met in the final. I won Uic sin- gles, and then, flushed with success, en- tered for six events-«cratch and handi- cap-at Aix-les-Baln. They were strenu- ous days, for I played sometimes from 8 oclock in the morning until 8 o'clock at night. My partner and myself were beaten in the mixed doubles handicap, but the other events were won by myself and partners. I often think of that tourna- ment, for it taught mo never to play in too many events. Nowadays I would never dream of playing in six events at the same tournament. Not only are you never still, especially when you are on the winning side, but your life is made miserable by tile inexorable demands of the tournament manager, anxious for you to complete your
In those days my greatest asset was my supreme confidence in my ability to beat the others. I went on the court feeling that I could not lose. Consequently I concentrated on the game, and v. as Uways making plans to see that I won. My service was not good, but the forehand drive was fair, while overhead I was strong and rarely made mistakes.
It was about tills time that the people of Lyons began to talk about young Henri Cochet as a coming champion. But I was unknown in Paris, and If you don't live in Paris you are absolutely in the shadow. I suppose it is the same all over the world. Anyhow, I decided lo show the Parisians that I knew a little about the game, so I entered for the Indoor championships in the second claw> division. I met Jean Borotra in the final. Jean in those days, as at the present, was a net-rusher. He could never play from the base-line, for I think his method of playing his ground shots was not sound enough. But once
he got to the net he was very difficult to |
pass, for he was as active as a cat and had the eye of an eagle. Joan and I had a grand game, but I managed to beat him 7-5 in the fifth set.
This win was very gratifying to me, and I entered for the outside tournament, which is the major event, vee little notice being taken of the Indoor tournament.
Early Ranking; .
Borotra was again my opponent In the final, but on this occasion I knew how to counter his net attack) and beat him three sets to one. That performance brought me prominently before the critics, and I was placed in the French ranking list, being either fifth or sixth, I forget now. But to be even considered in the
ranking list was a great achievement, see- ing that tills was my first season In Paris.
But the success had other compensa- tions, for the French association selected me to play In the world's covered courts championships at St. Morltz, Switzerland. Again I got to the final, to find Jean Borotra walting for me. But my game was sounder than his, and once agate Jean finished second to mc. Jean did not have the style to cope with my all-court methods, for my ground btrokes were better. As a matter of fact, I beat Borotra nine times in succession before he beat mo. But Jean and I won the doubles from B very strong French pair, J. (Totl) Brug- non and M. Dupont. You know Brugnon in Australia, but not Dupont, who was a very powerful player.
My next Important success wns in the world's hard court championship. The 1022 title was decided at Brussels, and after a five-set match I beat Count de Oomcr, of Spain. He had previously
Borotra and I won the doubles, and then, with tho greatest woman player the world has seen, Suzanne Lcnglen, the mixed doubles gave me my third success at the tournament. But it was not until 1922 that I won my first French cham- pionship, but of that later.
During this time I liad been steadily improving my game. I never missed an opportunity of seeing the best players in action. Oltcn I would watch the weaker players, "the rabbits" as you call them, for often "a rabbit" plays a wonderful shot, though he docs not know It or how he has produced It. They taught mo a
But I was beginning to acquire a regular, well-balanced game. I knew that it was necessary to build the game on sound foundations. It means much hard work, but my keenness and enthusiasm made light of such obstacles, and after years of practice I began to feel that I was jus- tified in thinking that my game had im- proved remarkably. So, with the approach of the French championships, I felt that "the boy from Lyons" had an excellent chance of winning the title. And so it proved; but I will tell you of this in my
Feeling- at Home
BRISBANE, Friday.-Owing to a heavy thunderstorm which flooded the Milton tennis-courts to-night the professional tennis tournament, In which Henri Cochet was to have taken part, was postponed until Monday night. The draw for that night Is:-Cochet v. B. O. Cummings, Cochet and L. Baker v. Cummings.and
Speaking in reply at a civic reception to-day Cochet paid tribute to Australian sportsmanship and hospitality. Ten months ago he had left France on a trip to advertise French tennis. The tour hod been something of a strain, and at one stage he had contemplated returning to France, but since reaching Australia he had been made to feel thoroughly at