Hello everyone Today I am with Jerome Lacorte Jerome has done something special on November 16th last year, in 2014 He broke the Guinness world record of tennis matches played in a row If I am right you played 32 or 33 matches in a row, depending on which site you look it up I noticed that it was equivalent to more than 32 hours in a row. I participated to this event and it was wonderful The first question that I want to ask you is why did you do that, why would you put yourself through the pain of playing over 32 matches? Hello Benoit, hello everyone So first of all to answer your question about 32 or 33 matches it actually was 34 matches. But I only counted up 33 because one of them was against a donor and he really did not play well. He ended up with 12 double faults during the last 3 games of serve so we did not count it So it was 33 matches, and the first one was against you, once again I thank you for that, it was a great adventure, it was nice. Why did I do that because for over a year I have been working with a foundation, the Sport for Hope Foundation. I had already participated in 2012 to the Standard Chartered 10K for the foundation. Just in order to let the viewers know, it is a marathon Exactly it is a marathon – There is a 10 kilometers, a 20 kilometers, a half-marathon and a marathon Yes, it is New York marathon indeed, sorry I mean Hong Kong marathon New York marathon that takes place in Hong Kong We moved it. So this is how I started, and then I became an executive member of the foundation and we decided to organize an event about tennis, the founder of the foundation being a big fan of tennis she really wanted to do something like this. Since I had joined the foundation as a tennis coach and having played tennis forever, she thought that it would be nice to do an event around this So you really did it for the cause. Yes, only for the cause I mention the idea at some point during a meeting saying that it would be nice to do a world championship, I mean a Guinness world record, but I had not realized how big it would get. In one sentence I had destroyed a year of my life. I imagine that it took a year to organize it Yes it took a year, especially with the logistic part It was very complicated . If it had not been for a cause, for a charity, it would have been much faster to organize. Personally it would have been much faster; I would have called 33 players and that was done, but we needed to raise money. Most of the people who played also gave money. It is always difficult to find people to give money, I don’t know if you imagine. It was impressive, as a participant I can say that it was impressive to see the logistic part the TV, the big billboards, the sponsors, the stands at the edge of the courts, the activities, it was impressive We were very good in term of communication thanks to the fact that we were lucky to have contacts with Now Sport TV and it helped us gaining visibility So now we raised money, a little bit more money, it was the second event of the foundation. And now people know us a little bit better, which is a good thing for the future, for the upcoming events Let me reassure you, I will not be the one breaking records or doing this kind of things, but I will be part of the organization Ok, super. We will speak more about the organization at the end of the interview The reason why I wanted to interview you is that I played the first match with you, Saturday at 7am and I came back the day after at 3pm. I was wondering in what kind of shape I would find you You were playing against Paradorn Srichaphan who used be one of the 10 best players worldwide and I saw you running everywhere, really relaxed, and I told myself that you were in the state of flow What I mean is that you were really relaxed, you were not asking yourself too many questions and you were feeling the game I thought that it was great and that it would be awesome if I could seize this moment and ask you questions. So what did you feel at this moment? What I felt. First of all the way I approached this event except for the logistic part was with the mindset of enjoying myself Because during the logistic part, you don’t enjoy yourself, it is tough . But I had decided to just have a long period of happiness while on the court playing tennis. To tell you the truth the most difficult moment was during the night in between 3 and 6 am. I got tired Maybe it was because it was night time. Maybe it was because you were playing at 3am, the body does not understand anymore, what am I doing here Yes, my body understood what was going on though, because I had tried it before a few times But the thing is that for me, the motivation comes from how fun it is And most importantly the pleasure that I get by playing with the other. I played against a few people that were not in the good mindset, that were giving me a negative energy and honestly that is when I got really tired A guy that arrived at 4 am and who kept on hitting drop shots just because he wanted to win, you wonder if he understood the spirit of the thing. I told myself that I would just keep playing the way I played but you have less fun and you get tired faster. The notion of pleasure changed everything for me I was doing better in the morning ; I played against two awesome guys at dawn. A great French man, who never got to play internationally, but who played tennis very well. He was coming on the other side of the court to pick up the balls for me. So you see this kind of mindset gave me a boost I played against Marc Silva, who was on the top 300 worldwide Or 360 worldwide, great guy, great mindset Dimitri Lorin, you know him, who used to be in the top 300 as well, He was great as well, he definitely beat me, I did not stand a chance But he did so by playinga nice tennis, not trying the mentally break me, just enjoying playing Really playing his type of tennis I really enjoyed playing against him He really gave me a boost I was feeling better matches after matches, and honestly at the end I felt that I could have played for a few more hours As long as the other players would have been cool guys, yes. If the other players had been not so cool guys, my energy would have plummeted. So it really is the positive energy, the fun that carried you throughout the event Yes, at least that is what I feel Super After talking about being relaxed , the thing is that at the beginning of the night, I had been playing for a while, and my shoulder started to hurt And I got a few difficult matches on Saturday, yes some tough matches. – Yes after 10 hours.
– Yes Yes after 10 hours the shoulder kind of gets a bit sensitive No that is not what I mean. I mean that I played against a bunch of players well like you that were ranked at the ATP or WTA. So the shots are not that soft obviously, and after 15 hours it starts to take a toll on your body, on your neck. Yes So it kind of shook up my shoulder and my neck I tried to play as relaxed as possible I tried to change the way I served I used a much more relaxed way of moving If I had not done that, I would have had some issues with my shoulders, and I would not have been smiling so much on the court. I really feel that it was the combination of these two elements the fun elements and the element of playing relaxed because of your shoulder This combination helped you stay focus on the matches and on the event. -Yes, and my legs. My legs never hurt me. But I have been practicing my whole life, like you, we are guys that practice this sport. I have always been into endurance, I am like a kid, like a puppy, I like running after the ball – Ok. You also told me that you have never doubted that you would success to achieve it physically. – This is an important point and we have to talk about it. If at any given time I had doubted, I would not have done it. As I told you the logistic part took so much time, so much effort, that if I had not been convinced that I would make it, I would not have done it. And I also had a responsibility to all the people that gave money to the foundation; you cannot just tell them that you cannot do it. But I never really had this kind of pressure, because I always knew that I would do it. And I had tried it a few times before The first time was in July, I played for 14 hours, and honestly it was the most difficult time, even though I did not spend the night on the court. I had started early and had finished in the evening. But I was too tense, and I started having cramps, not really cramps but my hand really hurt the day after. It taught me a good lesson, and the time after I played much more relaxed for 22 hours and I did not feel this issue on my hand at all. The third time I played for 32 hours and I did not have any problem so I was confident that I would do it. I had an issue with my foot, I had an injured foot. It is still injured. But you know there are people fighting wars, they really suffer, much more than I suffer playing tennis, I am not going to complain. There are palm trees, the weather is nice, you are with a lot of cool people you suffer a little but you have to look around you. – It is very cool what you are saying. So there were 3 elements There is the fun, the fact of playing relaxed, and the fact of never doubting. – There is another element. You have to be ready, you have to practice, and it should not be neglected. I also had adapted my diet during the year before. – Yes you had a nutritionist with you. – I had a nutritionist, it most definitely helped. I believe that you have to be aware about what you are eating and keep training. . I cannot say that I trained more than before but I have always been careful about keeping my endurance, I run, and in my everyday life I am always moving. – Ok – If I had to do it again, I would not do it again. No I am joking, , if I had to do it again, I would just select only people happy to be there – Yes. – This is the most important point, honestly. I had read a study about it; there are people that had interviewed the 100 best players in the world, male and female. They were asked what would be the first advice that they would provide to an average player who would like to improve. 80% of the answers were “have fun”. This is the answer that 80% of the players gave. – It is meaningful. – I think that it is the good mindset to have, no matter what you are doing. – Great. I was also wondering, you pushed your limits, at least I imagine, even though when I listen to you I wonder if you pushed your limits or not. – Somehow yes. – You may have pushed them during the logistic part. – Yes, I am more a player than an organizer. – I was wondering, what could you tell us about pushing one’s limits? – It is a very interesting thing. But after, you have to keep going. it is a project that took a lot of my time, and I knew that once it is accomplished, you have to start something else; you should not let too much time go after, because that is when depression can happen. It has to be said. It is logical. I knew that I had to start right away something else, after a year constantly trying to reach a good level of performance on everything that you do, on the organization, once it is achieved, you feel very empty after. – So you have another project of the same kind, a sport related project? – A sport related project yes. With the foundation we are thinking about organizing a project next September, it would be about boxing this time. We always have to check the issue of how much money it is going to bring to the foundation, we have to spend as little money as possible in order to raise as much money possible for the foundation. Depending on the margin in between how much we will spend and how much we will get, we will see if we do it or not. – Ok. If somebody wanted to get involved in a crazy project like yours, breaking a world record or not, do you have any advice to provide, or would it still be “Have Fun”? – An advice to give would be to get ready, to start practicing a long time before the event. I did not train just for only one year for this event, if I did, my legs would not have been that good with me. – Yes. – Practice and do something that you like. If it is not something that you like, it does not mean that you are not going to do it, but it is going to be 10 times more difficult. And do not do it only for yourself, if I had decided to break a world record only for myself, I don’t even know if I would have tried it, , I would not have made it to the end, I don’t know. – This is what fueled you. – Why would you do this kind of thing? I am proud of the way I got ready for it, I had done my tests and I knew how to do it. It may seem that you are putting less effort into it; it is like a guitar player that starts a crazy improvisation in a concert, you think that he is great. But he does not improvise; do not believe that, the dude as put a lot of work before, if he had not work he could not do that. This is the same thing here, if it seemed easy, and it could seem easy since my legs were not hurting, only my shoulder was hurting a little, people so me smiling, having fun, but it is because I put a lot of work into it before. – This is great. – You know the thing, you cry during practice and you laugh during the match. So my advice would be to practice well, and enjoy yourself in life, life is too short. – Great. – Yes – So now people are going to try to beat it. – Well 33 have to be beaten then, 33 matches have to be beaten to establish a new record. I forgot to finish my previous sentence about why I was happy with my training In my head I had programmed that it would take me 32 hours 30 minutes; and for the TV cameras that were broadcasting live I had a little bit of pressure about the timing, but at the end of the day my timing was fairly precise, and that is funny. I had counted 32 hours 30 minutes for 33 matches and I did 34 matches in 32 hours and 21 minutes. It was funny, at the end I told myself, wow, I am in time! – This man is like a Swiss watch. – Yes exactly, I wonder why they did not hire me in Switzerland lately. – Yes indeed. – Rolex or another brand cold have called me and say that it was incredible, you are always on time! – It is going to happen. It is great. About the foundation, do you want to tell us a few words about the foundation and how to reach it? – We have a website, www.sportsforhopefoundation.org.hk, it is difficult, I am going to send it to you. – That is what I was going to say. And what is the goal of the foundation? – The goal is to raise money for programs for young people that do not have the money to practice sport, and also to establish academic programs. In these academic programs, we hire former high level athletes who coach for a 2 year period. It is like a rehab for them because often former Olympian athletes are a little bit lost at the end of their careers and have issues finding work. We work with the Hong Kong Olympic committee and with the Sport Institute, which is like the INSEP in France. We also work with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, CUHK. So yes, we help, it is not looking for future elite athletes, but it is about the transmission of values through sport, and the values of sport, such as perseverance. Everything that was represented by the event and by the first event as well, the idea is that everybody can do it. – This is awesome. These are great values, and it helps both former athletes and young people. – Yes, exactly. – And I imagine that it only is for young people from Hong Kong. – Yes absolutely, it is a local foundation, only for Hongkongers. Lately we also work with the Hong Kong Tennis Association, with a program, we help them financially. We participate to a program of scouting for talents. I mean they are doing the work, we just help them financially we the money that we raised with the event. – Well this is great, thank you Jerome for your time. – Thank you. – It was great that is it. – Well listen, it is nice outside, we are in Hong Kong, I am going to take a hike outside, we will see each other soon, I wish everybody the best, I wish you the best and I will see you soon! – Great.