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Halep loses early benefactor

Corneliu Idu, the Constanta businessman who sponsored Simona Halep in her early career, has died after catching Covid-19 on the day the former World No 1’s documentary aired in Romania.

Constanta is an area with a history in tennis. And Simona Halep and Horia Tecau grew up with us. In Simona's last two years as a junior, I provided her with all the expenses, physical training, tennis training, competition fees or trips abroad, and I did the same for Horia, because I like tennis and because these young people have need help to get through. Besides the fact that it is a very expensive sport, the transition from juniors to seniors is very hard. Corneliu Idu

One of the country’s richest businessmen with assets worth an estimated 250 million euros, Idu died on Tuesday morning aged 70 from complications associated with the virus in a hospital at the Black Sea port of Constanta.

Medical sources said that Idu’s health suddenly worsened on Tuesday morning, and the medical staff failed to save him.

He was from Constanta where Halep, the current World No 2 was born and still lives.

The city is currently under a strict quarantine after a spike in coronavirus cases, and is currently one of the worst affected places in Romania.

Halep, 29, also tested positive for the virus in October but has since announced, in early November, that she has fully recovered.

The Romanian was sponsored by Idu when she turned professional in 2006 at the age of 15 after her father, who owned a small business, was unable to afford the extra costs when she joined the professional circuit.

Idu was a former ship captain during the communist era and went into business after the regime ended, owning  Idu Shipping and Services, a profitable shipping company according to reports.

A huge tennis fan, he opened a tennis school in the resort of Mamaia, just north of Constanta, where Halep and other professional players trained, including Horia Tecău.

“Constanţa is an area with a history in tennis,” said Idu. “And Simona Halep and Horia Tecău grew up with us.

“In Simona’s last two years as a junior, I provided her with all the expenses, physical training, tennis training, competition fees or trips abroad, and I did the same for Horia, because I like tennis and because these young people have need help to get through.

“Besides the fact that it is a very expensive sport, the transition from juniors to seniors is very hard.”

Throughout the careers of the two tennis players, Idu said that the investments needed to train such athletes amounted to several hundred thousand euros a year, without which they may not have managed to have such results.

Tennis Club Idu in Mamaia is one of the most beautiful in the country and, 3 years ago, the facility hosted the Fed Cup match between Romania and Great Britain..

“We have invested 5 million euros here and, annually, the expenses are 300,000 euros,” Idu said in an interview with Gazeta Sportulor 3 years ago. “But it is worth the investment, for these wonderful children.”

Romanian athletes have to train at private clubs and there are approximately 300 private tennis clubs in the country, most of which are out of the reach of most Romanians, who have one of the highest poverty rates in Europe, with about one-fourth of the population of 19 million considered to be ‘poor’.

Simona Halep in happier times with Corneliu Idu

Meanwhile, Halep appeared in the first documentary on her career in her country on Tuesday, directed by Radu Muntean.

In the documentary “3 mm” broadcast by PRO TV, Halep revealed how she felt over the turning points she experienced over the years.

The reigning Wimbledon champion explained how she perceived the weight of a failure, and the difficulties of managing the lack of positive results.

“It happened to me, to play so badly that the only thing I wanted was to run away from the court!” she confessed.

“It’s demoralising to train for hours, days, weeks, to get there and lose in the first round, when you play perfectly in training.

“You feel the sky fall on you and there is no chance. You think: ‘de What else can I do? I worked in vain! ‘, you have all kinds of thoughts. shameful, I felt powerless, I didn’t like what I was doing

“In those moments I really felt that it was not my place on the court,“ she added in the documentary supported by Banca Transilvania.

“I’m ashamed of myself in the first place, I mean I wouldn’t think about what people will say.

“I’m ashamed of myself and my team, because together we work, together we stay on the field every day, we jump eyes as we run, everyone is stressed in their own way, and I enter the field and I can’t do what I have to do, and then I’m ashamed of them and of me.”

Years of training and dedication, however, have made her one of the best players in the world.

Muntean also reveals what Halep’s daily life is like, how she trains, and explores her relationship with Australian coach Darren Cahill.

“In Australia, we have a cartoon character called the Tasmanian Devil,” says Cahill in the film. “It’s incredibly fast, it always revolves around it. He runs at 1000 miles an hour and is always nervous. He’s always looking for trouble. For me, this is also the case with Simona.”

Halep believes Cahill’s influence has been a vital ingredient of her success.

“I have to feel good about the people I work with,” she says. “I chose Darren because I really liked his methods, the fact that he understood me, that he understood my nerves, my personality and he tried to change my style somewhat.

“He relaxes me a lot with jokes. I wasn’t kidding before I met him. It opened me up a lot. Australians are like that, very positive.”

Director and screenwriter Radu Muntean made his debut with documentaries and has made films such as ‘Fury’, ‘The paper will be blue’, ‘Boogie’ or ‘Tuesday after Christmas’.



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