By Andre vd Biji
2009 KAAO world final mixed double winner
*Editor’s note: As the major sponsor of the Australian Open, Kia organizes the Kia Amateur Australian Open across the world, a tournament for amateur tennis players worldwide, providing a unique opportunity for distributors and dealers to interact with their customers.
Playing in the 2009 Kia Amateur Australian Open (KAAO) world final competition in Melbourne was a great experience for me. Melbourne is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. When we joined the KAAO local competition in the Netherlands and saw the draw, I thought we had a good chance of going – but you never know if you will really make it through to the finals in Australia.
The KAAO competition in the Netherlands is very strong and a major amateur competition. Only the best players are able to win. Five years ago, I played in this competition for the first time, but I was young and not strong enough to win. I lost that year in the second round.
Over the last four years, I’ve been working full-time, and have, unfortunately, been unable to play since the competition took place during the week. In September 2008, the tournament was organized on the weekend and I was able to compete again. This time Kia Motors invited me to play the qualifier, because my mixed doubles partner Kiki Bertens and I, had been Dutch champions last year. It was a very strong competition and the best four couples in the Dutch Championship ended up playing the semi-finals, so we really had to give it our best shot. We were in very good shape that weekend and able to beat these very strong couples. We won the competition and got this unique opportunity to join the KAAO world final competition in Australia, which is a fantastic prize to win and we really enjoyed our time over there.
The best thing I liked during the tournament was playing the men’s final and winning the mixed doubles with my partner Kiki Bertens. It’s amazing to play in a big stadium like the Rod Laver Arena. The first day, it was too hot to play. I never played a match in 45 °C, so it was quite a new experience for me. I was also feeling a little bit ill so it was very tough competition for me. I think that if my partner Kiki and I both wouldn’t have been ill during the last matches, we could have even won the team title and women’s singles. But I made it to the men’s final, ended up in second place; and, Kiki and I’ve defeated America in the mixed doubles final 10-2, which I think is a very good result.
Kia Motors was fantastic in organizing the KAAO in Melbourne! Kia took care of everything so we could concentrate on the matches. During the tournament there were ball kids and linesmen everywhere, which makes the KAAO tournament in Australia far more professional then some of the A-tournaments in the Netherlands. I also enjoyed the hotel that Kia arranged for us: it was a beautiful hotel in the city not too far from the stadium.
But even more fantastic was watching the men’s single final of the Australian Open. Watching a final between Nadal and Federer live is something you can only dream of! It was the most exciting, beautiful and spectacular match I’ve ever seen, and I will remember this final for the rest of my life.
I saw a lot of Melbourne and would really like to go back some time. I hope the Kia Amateur Australian Open will be organized for many more years and I’m definitely going the try to win the Dutch KAAO competition in 2009 again!