Koning keeps his cool - despite spiders

MICHEL Koning admits a dislike of spiders almost ruined his preparations ahead of a title-winning performance at the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England International Tennis Championship yesterday.

Stuart Watson

MICHEL Koning admits a dislike of spiders almost ruined his preparations ahead of a title-winning performance at the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England International Tennis Championship yesterday.

The 24-year-old appeared the embodiment of Dutch coolness during the men's singles final but confessed that he had been particularly bugged by eight-legged companions during the build-up to one of the best finals that Felixstowe Lawn Tennis Club has witnessed in recent years.

“The wind and the rain didn't really bother me at all this week as I have only just got back from playing in Ireland where both were much worse,” said Koning. “It was all the spiders here that were disrupting me this morning. I'm not afraid of them, but it's just annoying when you see them coming out of your bag and towel, even the chair you are sitting on.”


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The effects of the mild arachnophobia didn't appear to manifest themselves in Koning's performance though, the No.8 seed playing consistent tennis and winning the points that mattered.

And if Koning was the quintessence of the laid-back Dutch typecast, then his Australian opponent Brydan Klein was equally the personification of the Aussie stereotype - straight-talking, bursting with raw energy and an unapologetic desire to win.

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The 18-year-old's outbursts of frustration during the game got progressively worse as the game wore on. First it was the ground that received the force of his racket, next it was the net that took three mighty blows. The coup de grace came in the second set though when Klein, satisfied his racket had taken enough of a beating, resorted to launching it over the surrounding fence deep into a bush never to be seen again.

Koning admits there was a time when he was prone to fit of the tennis strops, but says he has worked hard on channelling his emotions in a positive way since then.

He said: “I've learnt that you have to stay focused for every hit because if you don't you will be punished in an instant.

“I used to go crazy on the court and completely lose my head. I wasn't getting aggressive, but I would just start thinking that I didn't want to play anymore.

“Nowadays I fight for every point and come with the attitude that I don't care if I lose but that I still really, really want to win.”

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