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“I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself”

“I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

The seven sins of tennis player Debbie Gach
  • Greed. I need my equipment to be in good order. I always want a new grip and the strings on my racket done before a match or a tournament. My shoes are always Nike, and I like having a Nike top, shorts and socks on as well. Outside the sport I’m not greedy at all; only when it comes to sneakers. People sometimes ask me if I have the whole Nike collection.
     
  • Gluttony. I don’t follow any special diet, but I do think about what I eat, especially during tournaments. I eat a lot of pasta before my matches, for the energy. Afterwards I’ll have some kwark or occasionally a protein shake for recovery. I’m not really into sweets, biscuits or crisps, but I can’t resist chocolate. When it comes to training I’m really greedy, after a training session I want to be completely exhausted.
     
  • Lust. I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for six months. People are very accepting of that in the tennis world. I know quite a few players with girlfriends. When I realised I liked women, I came out immediately. Everyone around me reacted really well, including the other girls at tennis. When you look fit you sometimes get compliments; from people around me, but there’s also a certain type of tennis trainer who’ll let you know you look good. People sometimes ask me if I have a six-pack. I don’t find things like that annoying; I take it as a compliment.
     
  • Envy. Studying was a very conscious choice for me. I like having something to fall back on, if tennis doesn’t work out. Still, I’m jealous of girls who train full time. Especially now it’s going so well; I’m in the top twenty in the Netherlands for the doubles and the top forty for the singles. Studying makes it hard to train a lot or play in international tournaments. I’m not jealous of people who go out a lot. You often see talented young players quit when they’re sixteen or so and starting partying; for me that was never a consideration.
     
  • Sloth. I never have that urge to do spring cleaning as some people do, haha. My room is very messy. I don’t really notice it though. I live at home, so it’s mainly annoying for my mum. I’m also pretty lazy about organising things. When I have to catch a flight I leave my packing to the very last minute. I always think it’ll be fine.
     
  • Wrath. Recently I played a third-set tiebreak and I was up 6-3. Then I played two weak rallies and threw my racket. That used to happen more often, but it’s rare these days. A really bad match can stick in my mind for a week, but usually the next day I can also see some positives. My mother usually comes to watch me play and if it goes badly it’s not much fun in the car on the way home.
     
  • Pride. I’m actually much too modest. Sometimes I play tournaments where there’s no umpire. If the opponent gives the ball ‘out’ when I think it’s ‘in’, you have to stand up for yourself. That’s something I’ve really had to learn, it’s not in my character.

Debbie Gach, 20, third-year student of biomedical sciences. Born in Heerlen, lives in Hoensbroek

Trains twelve to fifteen hours per week, trains under Janou Savelkoul at Tennisschool Regio Zuid

Best recent performance: doubles final in a four-star tournament for the national rankings, training for the upcoming rankings tournaments

This is a series about students who sport at the highest level

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