I probably would have become an engine driver like my dad
TEXT BY KAREL TEJKAL, PHOTO BY MICHAL MÁLEK
Martin Berdych is the father of the best Czech tennis player, Tomá Berdych. Even though his son earns enough to allow him to do nothing more than root for the young celebrity at tournaments, he still works as an engine driver for Czech Railways.
In his childhood, Tomá Berdych took for granted something that probably every boy in the world dreams of going for a ride with his father in a locomotive. But as his air travel abroad became more frequent and he started climbing in the ATP rankings, train rides became less and less frequent. It was only after Czech Railways became a partner of the Czech Davis Cup team that he returned to train travel, this time aboard the Pendolino. The Pendolino was the train he took to his February match against the U.S. in Ostrava. At that time, he and the rest of the Czech national team traveled from Olomouc, but at the end of 2006 he traveled the same route with Czech Railways CEO Josef Bazala, Czech Tennis Association head Ivo Kaderka and his father Martin. It was his father who took him to the Pendolino engine cab and let him symbolically resume albeit only for a brief period of time the familys engine-driving tradition.
We enrolled him in tennis and skiing courses when he was little to keep him from messing about. When we discovered that he was talented, he opted for tennis because there are not enough mountains in the Czech Republic to practice downhill skiing every day. This is how Martin Berdych describes, with a smile on his face, the moments that determined that Tomá was to drive locomotives only symbolically, as an honorary passenger.
I was surprised and pleased at the same time that Czech Railways named one of the Pendolino trains after me. I am already looking forward to the day my dad meets me somewhere going the opposite direction, Tomá said smiling after inaugurating his train in Ostrava. The quotation marks are deliberate here, as the Czech media reported on this event with allusions such as Berdych has his own Pendolino. This caused some uproar in the town of Prostìjov, where Tomá lives and trains: tennis players have so much money that they dont know what to spend it on
My own Pendolino is nonsense, of course, although I must say I was very surprised by how comfortable the trains are. I travel a lot over the course of the year although by air, of course so I can compare the standards and make judgments. Aboard the Pendolino I felt as if I were ﬂying; I didnt even miss the turbulence, says Tomá, remembering his Davis Cup trips.
And what would he be doing if he hadnt become one of the worlds best tennis players? I probably would have become an engine driver like my dad. It is a beautiful profession that almost every creative and imaginative boy who does not want to become a garbage collector dreams of, Tomá says laughing.
So the next time you get on or off a Pendolino,be sure to have a closer look at the train you might be traveling in Tomás train. And once aboard, keep an eye on the other passengers Martin and Tomá Berdychs trip to the Davis Cup match in Ostrava in February will not likely be last.