The initiative of Indigo Tennis Day, organised with Indigo, the children’s cancer support association, and Monaco Asset Management, was born thanks to the generosity of Anthony and Karin Stent Torriani, who for 15 years have offered a dream day to a dozen children during the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters.
By offering their boxes during the first day of the tournament, Monaco Asset Management offers young cancer patients a chance to watch the champions play on the clay courts and meet tennis stars like Nadal or Federer on the training courts or other players in the VIP area, allowing the children to get up close to their idols with a chance to ask for an autograph.
The group is also invited to the restaurant and presented with souvenir Nike t-shirts and gadgets, courtesy of Nike Monaco owner Kory Tarpenning, to remind them of an exceptional day. It’s emotional for everyone involved to see their young eyes light up as they share their experiences with others – like separation from family members, such as the child who underwent a marrow transplant in Marseille. For one day at least they get to live and be treated like normal kids.
Among the standout memories over the years: Dimitri playing wheelchair tennis with Nadal cheering him on; Federer meeting the group in 2011 (“I saw him, I touched him, my shoulder was against his arm …”); and Thomas, a young tennis potential from Vence who while in hospital for febrile aplasia received an autograph and a t-shirt signed “for Thomas with affection” by Nadal, (he framed the T-shirt and kept it in his room). The following year, Thomas attended Tennis Day and showed a photo of the framed tee to his idol Nadal, who he was finally able to meet shake hands with.
Thomas is still in treatment for leukaemia but has become a brilliant finance specialist in the US. With humility and gratitude he said: “Thank you, you saved my life.”
This year’s Tennis Day on April 14 was exemplified by acts of kindness. Nadal once again came by to meet the young fans and David Goffin featured in many of the kids’ selfies.
“To see these champions with their strength, their efforts, their will and their fragility is a part of the humanity that connects these children to their experience of the disease … so Rafa, Roger, Tomas and all of you champions continue to watch them and take the time to meet and give an autograph that will continue to fill their minds with dreams even when they are back to reality,” said Dr Anne Deville, who has been working with Indigo for many years.
She added, “How do you thank Karin and Anthony, Viera the communication wizard, and the sponsors, each of whom contributes to the smiles on these young faces that we see throughout the day and on the train home … for Indigo and their parents, what a treat to see them happy and alive again after their illness.”
The Indigo Association was created in 1993 by Mireille Goy-Kreitmann, a psychologist working with the oncology service of Lenval Hospital in Nice. The non-profit, which merged with Archet Hospital in 2004, works to improve the quality of life and the quality caring for children with cancer and to participate in the training of caregivers.
Some of its initiatives include organising activities, such as weekly visits of clowns, sophrology sessions and a film course, for hospitalised children. Through a painting workshop, Indigo has been able to put together exhibitions to display the children’s work at the Museum of Modern Art and the Matisse Museum, both in Nice.
Additionally, Indigo participates in the financing of leisure and sports outings for the children outside the hospital. All these activities help to show that despite illness and care, life goes on for the children who remain creative and active.
Anyone can become a member of the Indigo Association or donate, knowing that they will help children to participate in creative or fun activities and continue to live a full life, despite the serious constraints of treatment and care.
So when you’re watching Nadal play in the championship match Sunday as he seeks his 11th consecutive Rolex Monte Carlo Masters title, give thought to the Indigo Tennis Day Group, too. We can all learn from these exceptional children, who battle it out every day for a win and provide us with lessons of courage and hope equal to that of any sports legend.
Nadal won a record 31st Masters title after beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday, April 22. The 31-year-old also became the first man in the Open era to win the same title 11 times. Article first published April 21, 2018.