Emmanuel Macron doesn’t only want to be the best in the field of politics. On tennis courts as well, France's President elect is a competitor who hits hard. We’ve interviewed Patrice Kuchna, his tennis teacher, who told us a bit more about this Stefan Edberg fan.
Patrice Kuchna was very young, but he had seen Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Georges Pompidou’s prime minister between 1969 and 1972 play. To annoy the journalists, he would ask the umpire to organize his matches at dawn, and would play doubles or mixed doubles matches at Roland-Garros under various pseudonyms. And according to Patrice, there is no doubt : since « Chaban », « Emmanuel Macron is probably the best politician at tennis ». And for the last five years, the ex-world number 104, who defeated Andre Agassi at Roland-Garros in 1987, and is now a tennis teacher in Le Touquet, in the north of France, has given the presidential candidate of the En Marche ! movement tennis lessons. Everything started when the Rothschild banker asked Patrice’s father, who’s also a tennis teacher, to give him lessons during weekends in his second home in Le Touquet, which his wife, Brigitte, inherited. But when the father couldn’t be there, the son would step in. One day, the Kuchna family learned that their pupil had been named the secretary-general of the Élysée Palace. By accident. « I asked my father : ‘Did you know that Emmanuel was working for President Hollande ?’ He didn’t know anything about it. » Their collaboration didn’t stop there, and even lasted when Macron was named Minister of the economy and finance. « Even if, since then, his schedule doesn’t allow him to play every weekend. » The last time the two have played a few rallies ? About a week ago. « After the first round…he needed to relax a little. »
Macron, the ballboy
An ordinary lesson, which lasted one hour and a half, with the same exact routine : first, the warm-up where « he’s always impressive, even when he hasn’t played for three weeks », a few exercises to work on his technique and a few points to finish with. Macron is a baseline player - even if his favorite players are Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker - and has « a very good one-handed topspin backhand », says Patrice, who also points out his « generosity in putting in the effort », his attentiveness, and his will to « always wanting to improve. » A rare quality ? « I know very few players, in the ones I train, who, when they miss a shot, immediately want to try it again, to understand why they missed. » In the last five years, Kuchna has never seen Macron take part in a tournament, but believes that his protégé could win a local tournament if he put his heart into it. Which obviously he doesn’t have the time for. Especially during this presidential campaign, in which Patrice doesn’t want to interfere in. « I support him but when he comes to see me, he wants to talk about tennis, not politics. » Which doesn’t stop the ex-minister from taking a few selfies with the youngsters that he meets while leaving the court. « He’s an approachable guy, he’s not big-headed », says the teacher, who remembers that one day, while he was finishing a lesson with a young 12 year-old pupil, Macron came in early, and walked onto the court to be…the ballboy ! Now aged 16, this young student bumped into Kuchna a few days ago. « He told me : Patrice, do you remember when the future President picked up the balls for me ? It’s a nice memory for that kid…his very own Jacques Chaban-Delmas… »