PATTY SCHNYDER feature article (c/p, long!))
(from SonntagsZeitung newspaper of Zurich, Sunday 1 June 2003, translated with Babelfish software)
THE STRAINED INNER CIRCLE AND THE DISRUPTED RELATIONSHIP TO THE MEDIA OF THE FRENCH OPEN EIGHTH-FINALIST
by ANDI RUEPPEL, PARIS - Saturday at 10 o'clock. On Court 16, it is ground-strokes, volleys, first and second serves - the whole program. Patty Schnyder, who defeated the Greek Eleni Daniilidou in two sets the previous day, and her double-partner Emmanuelle Gagliardi are hitting balls. Rainer Hofmann, the boyfriend of Schnyder, and Eric van Harpen, the coach of Gagliardi, collect the balls so that the two players can concentrate on their job.
That Schnyder is in form, one sees quickly. She threshes with ease on the balls, and Gagliardi can not always stay with her rhythm. Van Harpen tries to correct his student from Geneva, her technical errors, often only little things, making exaggerated gestures before the eyes. He would be glad if he were allowed to do the same again with Schnyder, to correct her, push her and celebrate victories with her. She is, he repeated on Thursday, one of the most talented players on the tour. The fact that Schnyder dismissed Van Harpen as her coach four years ago no longer counts much. Time has healed many wounds, and the personal differences are forgotten.
And nevertheless: Van Harpen’s hoping should remain just hoping. The Dutchman needs a second player at his training-camp on Mallorca besides Gagliardi, so that he has sufficient incomes and can hold the expenditures for Gagliardi within limits. But according to Hofmann, Schnyder will not be the one. At the moment she is not searching for a new coach, said also Schnyder herself in the course of the last days. “We see after the French open further,” indicated Van Harpen, who once led her into the Top Ten. "But if she does not want to change, I can do nothing. She is the contract-giver."
A NEW COACH WOULD ALSO HAVE TO FIT WITH RAINER HOFMANN
For Fed Cup boss Zoltan Kuharszky, who trained in the past week likewise from time to time with Schnyder, it is clear that she brings along sufficient experience, in order to get by for some time without a personal coach. She must find out, what and whom she wants, says Rainer Hofmann. However, any new coach at Schnyder’s side must correspond also to the requirements of the 35-year-old German Hofmann, who is quite possibly the only, and without any doubt the most important, advising person in the life of the 24-year-old Basel native. The future will show whether there will be a coach again for Schnyder after Hubert Choudury, who had celebrated in 2002 a sporty ascent and among other things the victory in the Zurich Swisscom Challenge.
Choudury lost his job at the end of March, but already during the Australian Open he was showing signs of frustration that could not be missed by the eyes and ears. He had never understood, why the relationship to the Swiss press was so disturbed. The relationship between Schnyder and most tennis journalists from her own country has not changed for the better even now. She is the number 1 of the country, she is once again the last remaining Swiss hope in the French open, she is the number 18 of the world and can on a good day keep up with any opponent, and she fights today against Justine Henin Hardenne (WTA 4) for entry into the Quarter-finals (11 o'clock SF 2). There would now again be definite reasons to report euphorically on the Tennis-Player Patty Schnyder. But the reporting of her successes is being conducted amazingly soberly. Perhaps this is connected also with the fact that Schnyder’s frame of mind sinks to a low point in each case when facing Swiss media representatives, while she answers questions from foreign journalists with a smile.
INTERVIEW-PROHIBITIONS, THREATS OF LEGAL ACTION
Thereby hiss over Schnyder’s lips even such embarrassing sentences as "that is however all the same sh.... to me!” The question of the journalist of the "Basler newspaper" had been however a simple, logical and no rating: With whom was she training here? Some media outlets, including the entire Tamedia group, threatened after critical reporting with lawsuits, have long been prohibited by Hofmann from conducting interviews with Schnyder. One does not try to accept Patty, to understand her, and spreads untruths, says Hofmann regarding this.
That the so-called “untruths” are often a matter of opinion and most editorships stand by their explanations, is one point. That most of the conflict-laden stories for years have concerned not the Tennis-Player Patty Schnyder, but center instead around the quarrels between father Willy Schnyder and his daughter or the fraud trial against Hofmann in Germany, is another. Patty Schnyder is suffering not just from the outside criticism, but also from the events and conditions taking place inside her own very narrow inner circle.
When hired one year ago, the media chief Marco Mordasini was supposed help to smooth the waves a little. But this however aided nothing, in fact the opposite. A ship with a broadside cannot be better steered with an extra man on board - and communication has taken occasionally chaotic forms. Before the French Open, the newspaper “The Federation” had to submit its questions for Schnyder for a review. The questions were deemed too negative and had to be revised. But then also the second attempt was pushed aside as not answerable questions for Schnyder. When press release boss Mordasini (according to the New Zurich News) required that the reporter pose also some questions to the subject of Patty Schnyder’s cats, in order to put her first in a good mood, the journalist finally gave up on the project.