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Federer with current coach Paul Annacone
Feeling that Roger had outgrown the Ciba club and needed to be amongst better juniors, Lynette enrolled him at age eight in the elite junior programme of the Old Boys Tennis Club in Basel.
There, he received his initial tennis instruction from veteran Czech coach Seppli Kacovsky. With more than 40 years experience, Kacovsky claimed to have been one of the few to recognise Roger’s potential.
“The club and I noticed right away that this guy was a natural talent and had been born with a racquet in his hand… so we began giving him private lessons, which were partly funded by the club," he said.
He was a quick learner, when you wanted to teach him something new he was able to pick it up after three or four tries, while others in the group needed weeks,” Kacovsky said.
Kacovsky was a fan of the one-handed backhand, and considering that Roger’s idols were Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and later Pete Sampras, all of who used the one-hander, it’s no surprise that Roger used it and stuck with it from an early age.
As a youngster, Federer boasted that he would win Wimbledon one day.
“People laughed at him, including me," Kacovsky said. "I thought that he would possibly become the best player in Switzerland or maybe Europe, but not the best in the world.
"But, he had it in his head and worked at it.”
From ages eight to 10, Roger received group and individual training from Kacovsky. He was sometimes ejected from practice sessions for fooling around and throwing what would become his famous tantrums.
One of the coaches even called him “Little Satan,” and Roger later confessed to having been a hot head at a young age—often erupting if he hit a dumb shot.
In tournaments he would sometimes scream out “lucky shot” when his opponent played a great shot. He was once, having lost a match, found crying and had to be coaxed out from beneath the umpire’s chair.
Another time, having become bored whilst waiting to play a match, he even climbed a tree and hid in it until people started worrying where he was.
Rarely a day went by when he wouldn’t throw his racquet against the fence. At tournaments, his behaviour would so shock his parents that they sometimes refused to speak to him on the way home.
Roger, though, couldn’t understand the fuss. He once even told his mother to just relax and go have a glass of wine.
Despite this fragile temperament, Roger still impressed Kacovsky, who said that during defeats he never gave up and was willing afterwards to learn from his mistakes.