an old interview with Wetter:
The following interview with Ernests’s coach was written by Christian Frühwald and first published on Laola1, an Austrian sports portal. We thank Catherine Toussaint for the translation. Read the original article in German here.
“Do you need anything else?” Karl-Heinz Wetter asked, after his son Gabriel claimed his father on the telephone for the second time.
No, of course not. After all, the successful Austrian coach had already taken half an hour of his time for Laola1 during the BA-TennisTrophy.
And time for his family is something very precious for Melzer’s former coach. Wetter only has been in Austria for precisely nine and a half weeks this year.
The ‘giant talent’ Gulbis
The reason is easy to explain: he is in charge of the Latvian shooting star, Ernests Gulbis (ranked 56 at the moment), who is one of the biggest talents on the tour.
They have been working together since November 2007 and experts say that Gulbis is capable of reaching the Top 10. Even becoming No. 1 should not be impossible for this 20 year-old.
“He’s very talented,” acknowledged Wetter. “But talent is not enough, that’s another fact.”
“With Ernests I twist my tongue.”
‘Ernie’, as he is called by Wetter, (”With Ernests I twist my tongue at the last s.”) is said to have a complicated personality.
“I know he is said to be a complicated person.” Wetter confirms. “But I don’t know why people say that. It’s basically easy to work with him. He asks a lot and wants to know many things. It’s fun to work with him.”
But how did Wetter find this diamond in the rough? “His agency called me in October last year. After 2 weeks of trial practice, we saw that the chemistry was right.”
Preparation in Hawaii
After preparing for the season in Hawaii, Wetter went on the ATP tour with his disciple. But the start was tough.
“During the first 4 months and a half he was either sick or injured. Be it the tonsils or the wisdom teeth. Only during the clay season things slowly improved.”
Quarterfinal at the French Open
Gulbis first caused a fuss after his quarterfinal at the French Open. At the Masters Series in Cincinnati he also made the final eight. “Since then he’s been a bit unlucky with the draws. But he mostly played really well.”
For Wetter, the biggest potential for improvement is in terms of tactics. “He has to become more stable and solid. Sometimes he plays 120% instead of 100%.” Apart from that, his biggest flaw would be “his youth and lack of experience.”
Wetter considers the collaboration with Gulbis as, above all, an endorsement of his work. Before this, he coached Jürgen Melzer for twelve years, from his youth to No. 28 in the world rankings.
“Of course there is pride.”
“Of course there is pride somehow. It’s always a recognition if you get positive feedback in your job.”
“If somebody who has talent wants to work with you, then that itself is a positive feedback,” said Wetter, who statedf that it is easier for him to deal with criticism than with praise.
No time for the family
But the commitment to Gulbis does not only come with the positives for this father of two children. “After my collaboration with Melzer ended, I was really happy because I could finally spend time with my family and my sons.”
“In reality they only know me as a part-time father. Those were the first holidays during which I was at home. I enjoyed that time like crazy. When your kids are 10 and 13 years old, there is not much time left to spend with them anyway. At 18 they’ll be sitting in their car and driving to see to their girlfriends.”
Support from his wife Petra
Wetter owes a lot to his wife, Petra, who played on the WTA tour herself. “She knows the business and is very understanding about my job. Without that support it wouldn’t be possible.”
At least in November the Wetter family can look forward to seeing their father, before he returns to Hawaii for the preparation in December.
But after his 13th year on the tour Wetter knows exactly what is going to happen: “It’s the most awful month of the year. For once you’re at home and all you get are mist and rain.”