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 Lucas Arnold Ker

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Grand gourou à poil roux

Nombre de messages : 21707
Date d'inscription : 12/06/2008

MessageSujet: Lucas Arnold Ker   Dim 13 Juil 2008 - 19:08

L'histoire atypique de ce joueur argentin est relaté sur le site http://www.tennis.com . Il est revenu sur le circuit après avoir survécu à deux cancers jap

Epic Perseverance: Part III - Lucas Arnold

Over the next six weeks, the top ATP pros will be traversing the well-travelled highway to the US Open, criss-crossing the US Open series events and – this year – the Olympics in Beijing. But for some, injuries and illness means having to go through the side streets of qualifying and challenger events. Here are three players who have been on an exceptionally hard road.

The child of two tennis-playing parents, Lucas Arnold had a successful junior career and cracked the ATP Top 100 in in 1998.

After getting as high as No. 77 in singles and then dropping back, he began to focus on doubles. In 1999, he married wife, Yannina – a son, Ignacio, was born in 2002.

By 2006, he was a quintessential figure on the tennis circuit: a doubles specialist in his early thirties, hovering around the edges of the Top 20. It’s a time when most players start looking for other fields to pursue, but Arnold found himself still obssessed with his career.

"I was thinking about tennis all the time," he recalled in an interview in January. The sport become a substitute for life, until suddenly – life intervened. "My wife said, 'Enough, I can’t take any more. Goodbye’."

Shocked out of his tunnel vision, Arnold also realized it was time to face something else he had known for some time – there was something wrong with his body. He returned to Buenos Aires, where he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery within days.

"There is no awareness [of this disease] in Argentina,“ he said. When I had a tomography taken before the operation I was ashamed to say why I was there. The girl who took it calmed me down, told me I could not imagine how many men go through the same thing. But it is a macho society, people don't talk about it."

Ill and alone, he turned to the bestselling autobiography of cyclist Lance Armstrong, It’s Not About the Bike. Knowing that someone else had battled the same disease and climbed to the top of his sporting profession was a great comfort.

"I went to psychologists and didn’t talk. I read Armstrong’s book and it helped me a lot – his account of how he handled chemotherapy. Unlike what I was going through, he always thought he was going to survive," said Arnold. "I was very bad. I had a terrible depression, like a death inside."

But less than two years later, he was able to finish the tale on an uplifting note. “Now I feel a great strength."

It’s a statement he could hardly have imagined at the time, any more than he could have imagined the events that were still in store.

After his initial emergency surgery, Arnold played doubles at the 2006 US Open doubles with Agustin Calleri and announced his retirement. Then shortly afterwards, back in Argentina, the cancer returned. It meant five months of chemotherapy, with all its consequences, until doctors confirmed in February that he had recovered.

There had been one happy event in between. Learning of his illness, Yannina re-established contact and the two had rekindled their relationship. "We are fine now,“ said Arnold.

As Arnold recovered physically, he also began to think about returning to another love: tennis.

He made his return in September 2007 at a Futures tournament after being granted a wildcard by the Argentine federation. He played a 16-year-old junior in his opening match and earned $90 for his second-round effort at the event. It was quite a comedown for a player who had accumulated $1.5 million over 14 years as a professional.

But Arnold didn’t care. "I used to worry about money, but now it’s not important. It happens to a lot of players – sometimes a match can be worth a house... But I realized that I’ll never die of hunger.“

He resumed regular play on the doubles circuit during the fall and played the Australian Open at the beginning of this year. Watching him back in a Grand Slam environment again, it was clear that a personal transformation had taken place. Previously, the blonde, tanned Argentine with the surfer-dude look had been quiet and aloof. Now, his face had aged but his spirit seemed younger. He was always to be spotted on the courts, volunteering as anyone’s sparring partner.

He spent an hour hitting with Daniela Hantuchova, who would reach the semifinals of the women’s singles later in the fortnight. "Hantuchova beat me to death, I can't stand her,“ he joked.

Then, trying to explain away his beating, he said, "I used to be able to run differently."

His lungs were still recovering from the effects of chemotherapy. Still, Arnold knew he could still hold his own on the doubls court. "Being a doubles player, you do not need to be as fit as a singles player. I can use my experience to my advantage."

Arnold and partner Felciano Lopez made the third round Down Under. Meanwhile, the Argentine, lacking a clothing sponsor, scrounged the locker rooms for his colleagues’ cast-offs.

"There’s always a place at the Grand Slams where the players leave their clothes – they throw them away, or forget them," he said. "I have some of [Tomas] Berdych’s shoes. They’re enormous for me but it doesn’t matter. If they don’t use them, it’s a gift for someone else.“

But more heart-rending moments would follow after the sunshine of Melbourne. First, Arnold’s mother died in tragic circumstances in February. Then in May, a fire broke out in the players’ hotel at the Bordeaux challenger and Yannina and Nacho were nearly trapped inside. They escaped with some help from the Thai doubles twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana.

"Before I opened the door I was thinking of jumping out the window," Yannina told ATPtennis.com. "But the twins said we can't do that... [they] put towels in water and gave one to me and one to my son to put over our nose and mouth.

“We started walking up the corridor but there was no exit sign. We really couldn't see anything until the fireman opened the door to the stairs and we could see some light."

Yet another close escape for the family. Arnold has been reluctant to say too much about the events of the past few months, but feels the "rollercoaster" of the past three years has left him stronger and more serene about life’s travails.

He had hoped to make it to the Beijing Olympics – "In Sydney 2000, given my ranking, I should have gone, but they did not take me" – but Argentine’s strong squad of players meant there was little hope after Arnold’s results fell off from the beginning of the year.

But with a doubles ranking of No. 89, he will be able to play the US Open. There are no plans to retire at the moment, but Arnold knows that, at 33, it’s time to start making some post-tennis plans.

"I'd like to do a radio program... talk about things I know. In tennis, on psychology. I love to communicate," he reflected. "I would also like to start a foundation related to what happened to me, about testicular cancer or cancer in general.

“Once in Atlanta, there was a visit to a hospital and there were these boys suffering from cancer. They came to say hello. Doing something like this is much more fulfilling than anything else. You wake up."

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The Black Dragon


Nombre de messages : 2027
Age : 42
Date d'inscription : 14/06/2008

MessageSujet: Re: Lucas Arnold Ker   Mar 16 Sep 2008 - 19:50

Lucas Arnold Ker, le Lance Armstrong du tennis(16/09/2008)

Lucas Arnold Ker a également vaincu un cancer des testicules

BUENOS AIRES Le monde du sport a longuement évoqué, ces derniers jours, l'annonce du retour, à 36 ans, de Lance Armstrong sur un vélo. Il est un autre sportif, toutefois, qui vient d'effectuer un come-back nettement moins médiatisé, mais tout aussi méritoire. Il s'agit de l'Argentin Lucas Arnold Ker, qui pourrait parfaitement être surnommé le Lance Armstrong du tennis . Le natif de Buenos Aires, 33 ans, 77e en simple à l'ATP en 1998 et 21e en double en 2004, vient en effet de vaincre un cancer des testicules qui faillit lui coûter la vie.

"Je ne pensais pas rejouer un jour au tennis", expliqua-t-il à la veille de participer à l'US Open en double avec son compatriote Guillermo Canas comme partenaire. "Je n'avais même pas demandé à l'ATP de pouvoir bénéficier d'un classement protégé qui aurait pu m'être utile. Je voulais juste vivre..."

Lucas Arnold Ker sait probablement mieux que quiconque, dans le milieu du tennis, ce que perdre signifie. L'Argentin a ainsi perdu sa maman, Lindsay, en janvier de cette année, mais il a surtout failli perdre la vie, en août 2006, lorsque les médecins diagnostiquèrent un cancer des testicules.

"Je ne voulais pas y croire. Je n'avais même pas osé le dire à ma mère, car elle traversait une dépression à l'époque", poursuivit le joueur sud-américain, qui s'envola carrément pour disputer l'US Open deux semaines après avoir subi l'ablation du testicule touché. "Je refusais toute idée de chimiothérapie, mais j'ai dû m'y résoudre quelques semaines plus tard dans l'espoir d'éviter le pire."

En finale avec Rochus

Soutenu par son épouse Yannina, dont il avait failli divorcer, et son fils Ignacio, aidé par ses coéquipiers de l'équipe argentine de Coupe Davis, dont David Nalbandian, Lucas Arnold Ker remonta tout doucement la pente. Après quatre mois de chimiothérapie et plusieurs semaines d'entraînement au régime spartiate, l'Argentin retrouva la force nécessaire pour s'en aller taper des balles dans le club de son enfance, Los Olivos, à Buenos Aires.

"Je n'ai pas toujours pris mon tennis et la vie très au sérieux quand j'étais plus jeune. J'étais très insouciant. Il y avait toujours un autre tournoi, une autre opportunité. Durant ma chimiothérapie, j'ai commencé à livre le livre de Lance Armstrong (NdlR : It's Not About the Bike) et j'avoue que cela m'a beaucoup aidé."

Obligé de repartir de zéro, au bas de l'échelle, dans les petits tournois Futures , Lucas Arnold Ker remit avec application son ouvrage sur le métier dans l'espoir de se refaire une place au soleil. À force d'abnégation, il y est parvenu. De retour dans le Top 50 en double, au 47e rang, il a pu participer cette année aux quatre tournois du Grand Chelem et a même atteint, cet été, la finale du tournoi de Kitzbühel avec Olivier Rochus.

"Toute cette histoire m'a fait réaliser pas mal de choses. Désormais, quand je perds un match de tennis, je me sens peut-être mal pendant une ou deux minutes, sourit-il. Ensuite, je vois ma femme et mon fils, et je suis heureux."

Le bonheur, il est vrai, est souvent fait de choses simples...

Serge Fayat

© La Dernière Heure 2008
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