“Why not?” I shrugged. “It can not hurt, my friend.”
Steve said goodnight and I headed over to the blonde
girl.

***

The telephone sounded like a fire alarm as I struggled
to wake up. “Allo,” I said groggily into the phone by
the bed, looking around to see if the blonde girl was
still there. She wasn’t, just a note on the pillow which
I crumpled up without reading and threw it onto the
floor.

“You awake?” Steve’s Australian drawl sounded in my ear.

“Of course,” I lied. “I’ve been up for hours.”

“Bullshit,” he said succinctly. “Ingrid will meet you on
the terrace at one. Don’t be late, Em. She’s got a thing
about being punctual.”

For once, I was on time and I sat waiting for Ingrid as
I surveyed the world through my sunglasses. Suddenly,
she was standing in front of me, dressed in a black top
and leather trousers. Her blonde hair was pulled back
and gold jewellery glittered against her honey coloured
skin, her eyes were hidden behind gold rimmed
sunglasses. “Emillio Sanchez,” she said coolly,
extending her hand.

I took her hand. “It is exciting to meet you,” I said,
putting on my best boyish smile, which she totally
ignored as she sat.

“I’m sure it is,” she said sarcastically in that clipped
accent Swedes adopt when they speak English. Could this
woman be blind to my charm? Perhaps it is true she is a
lesbian? “Steve tells me you are looking for a coach?”

“Yes, I am without a coach at the moment. And you are
without players?”

“Johnny has announced his retirement according to our
plan,” she stated. “I have no plans to coach. I am
seeing you because Steve is a great player and a good
friend.”

“I need a coach,” I said.

“No one will coach you. You have no discipline,” she
said flatly.

“I will learn,” I said dramatically. “I need to learn as
I cannot return to Mexico a failure.”

For the next hour I attempted to persuade her as she
sipped her juice and picked at a plate of fresh fruit.
“You must help me or I am doomed!” I finally begged.

Ingrid laughed. “Such a passionate boy. However, I
understand you can’t follow rules?’

“Who would say such a thing!”

“Everybody,” she said simply. “You would have to follow
my rules. It is essential for my coaching technique to
be successful.”

“You have my word,” I vowed, one hand raised.

She laughed coldly. “I will have more than that.”

The contract was simple. She would get a very large
percentage of my earnings, I would follow her every
instruction and if I had not won a Grand Slam tournament
within one year, the contract was void. I didn’t need
long to think it over and I didn’t read it very
carefully before I signed.