How does a 24-year-old professional athlete die from a cardiac arrest? According to several news sources, preliminary autopsy reports suggest that Mathieu Montcourt, a product of the French Tennis Federation passed away from a cause we generally relate to older people. While there are still more tests that need to be made to detect whether or not there were extenuating circumstances, it’s a very sad story for the sport.
At first, some media outlets assumed it had something to do with his five-week ban for gambling on other players’ matches (he was waived of influencing any match). Everything thinks Hollywood mafia style. But no matter what the final outcome is, Montcourt was gone too soon. He had family, friends and other guys on Tour who loved him.
I’m a self-proclaimed ‘stats geek’ but it still bothers a tonne when reports add a player’s statistics during a story of this nature. I’m all about reporting the facts, but I don’t think someone’s yards passing or first serve percentage is all that important right now.
Two months ago he reached a new professional high, advancing to the second round at Roland Garros and climbing to No. 104. Most people think about Roger, Rafa, Serena and Venus, but guys like Montcourt are the heart of professional sports. Just making enough money for a decent living but enjoying the travel. Working hard to crack the Top 100 and get automatic berths into Grand Slams. Scraping for every point you can earn in every Challenger in every corner of the globe. The guys on tour are a pretty tight knit group. Think about it, the season is nearly 10 months long. It’s like a family.
It all seems pretty trivial now. Sports lost a very kind, humble and well-liked man. Don’t let the bad headlines from gambling erase the fact that a young man has died. Hard to believe that one night someone can be watching a movie with friends in a town in France, and the next minute you’re gone.