January 20, 2018
How many of us witnessed the beaming smile on Nick Kyrgios face last night when Hollywood A-lister, Will Smith acknowledged him with a thumbs- up for being “cool”? The crowd were on their feet celebrating his win over Jo Wilfred Tsonga, his childhood idol, and it was a truly lovely moment for a young man who has been judged quite harshly, over past years. Wonderful, but largely buried memories came flooding back to me about an encounter Cooper had with Nick Krygios four years ago.
We have for the past decade, gravitated to Melbourne during the Australian Open, and have taken in many games over that time. It was Father/Son time for Colin, Mitch and Cooper. Unbeknown to us, The Grand Hyatt Melbourne which is our home away from home in Melbourne, is also home away from home to some of the world’s most prominent names in tennis, and the hotel is under siege in January of each year with familiar faces from the tennis world. I remember the excitement after Coop took the elevator with Jo Wilfred Tsonga in 2012, who took the time to say ‘hi’, accompanied by a disarmingly warm smile. At the time he was ranked no.5 in the world.
But this story is not about the personable Jo Wilfred. It began with Coop and Colin having an impromptu game basketball at the hotel. They hadn’t bothered to book the court, and took their chances. After half an hour of exhaustive competition, they were approached by a young man with a very familiar face, asking if they would like to join he, and his friends for a game of basketball, as it turned out – he actually did have the court booked. Colin, noticed a familiarity in this very friendly, exceedingly polite and uber fit young man. For Coop, the penny dropped immediately. This was the highly talented and often misunderstood, Bernard Tomic, and amongst his “friends” was the very young Nick Kyrgios. For over half an hour, (because that’s all Colin could manage…) they engaged in a spirited, fun and very friendly match up, or as Colin put it – “They took it easy on us”…
Both Nick and Bernard have been surrounded in controversy over past years, and each time the media portrays the pair in an unfavourable light, we often think of that day in 2013, the chance meeting with the two young men, and the sheer joy and excitement it brought to Coop’s life, and may I add, to Colin’s also. Coop was not visibly unwell at the time, and was highly competitive, and he was never going to allow Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic clean the floor with him on the basketball court. The two young men embraced him so warmly – despite the fact it was them who had booked the court for them and their friends.
We all dabble in duplicity from time to time, and I use this word in its meaning of “being double”. We often have one persona that is not necessarily the one that is seen by the outside world. We know from first-hand experience with Cooper during his illness, what you see is not always what you get…He was a master in the art of masking how ill he truly was to the outside world. There is most often, two sides to everyone. It is hard to know how often these boys engage in these random acts of kindness, but I suspect a little more often than we might think – without cameras, and without media to record it.
Last night Nick Kyrgios posted on Instagram, “Tonight was special. You will always be someone I look up to @Tsongaofficiel. Was an absolute pleasure to play out there today”… With a little tweaking here and there – it could easily have been posted by Coop. There are always going to be times in your life when no matter who you are, and how good you are at what you do, you will find yourself in awe of another. For Coop, it was that 30 minutes on the basketball court with what would turn out years later, to be two of Australia’s most promising tennis prospects and their entourage. Over the years, he never waned in his support of either despite the tumultuous media representation.
Next time the media take a swipe at Nick Kyrgios or indeed Bernard Tomic, I would ask you to remember this story, and remember the huge heart, and generosity of spirit, they both showed our precious boy, and his dad, and the wonderful memory they created in the process.
The team at CRBF would like to extend our congratulations to Nick for a great game last night, and we cannot wait to see him take out his first Australian Open, on January 28, 2018. Bernard, we hope you are back again next year!