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Henri Cochet

tennis player
Full name: Henri Jean Cochet
Nickname: Le Magicien, Ball Boy of Lyon
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Bio Henri Cochet was born to Gustave Cochet and Antoinette Gailleton. His father was a groundkeeper in a Lyonnese tennis club where Henri worked as a ball boy and thus had a chance to practise for free.
He began playing at the age of eight along with his sister. The president of the club, a silk-factory owner and French-ranked player Georges Cozon, recognized his talent and volunteered to coach him.
He entered his first local tournament in 1920 where he met his mentor in the final. He then moved on to win a series of matches at Aix-les-Bains mostly scratch and handicap matches. In 1921 he decided to compete in Paris, which was the center of tennis life and registered for the French Covered Courts tournament second-class draw there, in which he reached the final where he beat Jean Borotra in five sets. That qualified him to be featured in the 1921 French Closed Championships where he repeated his victory over Borotra and subsequently broke into the top ten French rankings at the end of the year Also in 1921 he won the military Championship of France.
He collected no fewer than seven majors in singles with his broad range of shots. Most strikingly, he was the first great half-volleyer in the sport.

Cochet married Germaine Desthieux on 16 April 1926. He taught her how to play tennis and later entered minor tournaments together. Apart from playing tennis Cochet was an amateur ice-hockey player and he ran a sporting goods store in Paris.

Cochet was an occasional coach as well and in 1930 he coached the French junior tennis team once a week for free including his brother-in-law Georges Desthieux who won the New Malden tournament that year. He was awarded the Red Ribbon of the Legion of Honour for his sport merits in 1951.

Meanwhile his sister Aimée (Charpenel) Cochet also became a tennis player and later was on the main draw of the 1930 Wimbledon Championships.

As his Davis Cup teammate and fellow member of the “Four Musketeers” René Lacoste once said, “Henri Cochet can beat everybody when his shots are working and be beaten by everybody when they are not.”

The Four Musketeers were inducted simultaneously into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1976.
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