He could have played at Roland Garros: singer Cyril Mokaiesh

SERIES – They could have been tennis professionals and who knows, one day they will play the Roland Garros tournament. This is the case of singer Cyril Mokaiesh who is confident in his first career.

Singer Cyril Mokaiesh (left) with Richard Gasquet © Archives Cyril Mokaiesh

In a few days, on Sunday, May 22, 2022, the Roland Garros tennis tournament will begin. On this occasion, we met high-level extennists, who ended up choosing another path. This is the case of singer Cyril Mokaiesh and handball player Luka Karabatic, considered hopes of French tennis. They were between 12 and 14 years old and the future was ahead. They persevered, rubbing shoulders, a little later, with some of the best players in the world.

Cyril Mokaiesh played high level tennis for the most part.
Cyril Mokaiesh played high level tennis for the most part. / Archives Cyril Mokaiesh

For Cyril Mokaiesh, “started hitting the wall in front of the building and then, after taking classes once a week, during the holidays“, recalls the singer.During the first tournaments I was able to do, I was spotted by a club, in this case the Racing Club de France in Paris, and this was the beginning of a career in [catégorie] youth. I stopped when we passed adults or professionals“In his teenage room, he lives and sleeps tennis:”The posters were Agassi, whom I carried very, very high in my heart and who was even on my ceiling over my bed. I fell asleep watching it. I really liked Kuerten, Agassi, Safin“.

“There is a kind of brotherhood in the tennis tribe”: listen to the interview with singer Cyril Mokaiesh

By Fabrice Abgrall

“We chose our vacation spots based on tennis tournaments”

Unlike many players, Cyril Mokaiesh did not follow a family passion. “My parents didn’t like sports at all, but they got into it and then my mom sacrificed a lot of her time. I have memories of it [trajets en] infinite car to go to tournaments “, remember. “And then great joys, sometimes disappointments. Life revolved around me, either during the year to take me to train almost daily, or later, during the holidays. We chose our vacation spots based on the tennis tournaments. “

Cyril Mokaiesh on stage.
Cyril Mokaiesh on stage. / CM files

When the competition begins, he knows the promising generation of French tennis. “There was Olivier Renavand, there was Victor Lamm, there was Gaël Monfils (…) A great group of young players who have been at different levels“At the age of fifteen, he joined INSEP, the national institute for sport, expertise and performance. He reached the semifinals of the French tennis championship against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The four semi-finalists were selected for a European team championship called the Copa del Sol.Cyril Mokaiesh recalls, “a competition we had won. Richard Gasquet, who had great leadership, had joined the team. It had helped us a lot. Being one of the best players in Paris, I became one of the best players in France and at that time, Insep was really the springboard and the most important selection for a young man to be part of the elite.The future singer shares a room at INSEP with Gilles Simon. But the music is already calling him. The guitar is never far from his racket.

Singer Cyril Mokaiesh as a child on a tennis court.
Singer Cyril Mokaiesh as a child on a tennis court. / CM file

However, at the age of 18, he became champion of France. “But I felt like I was right down there. “ he admits. “The gap has widened a bit over the years. When we were fourteen, fifteen, we caught up. But I could see that there were other things that came into play. You also forge yourself, you start being a man and other things started to attract me. It’s not much to play for, but I had less fire. “

Gradually, the future singer moves away from tennis. “In the mood I was in, I couldn’t go any higher. he remembers. I stopped at 19, I felt like I wasn’t there at all anymore. I started touring with my guitar. It’s pretty revealing. I locked myself in my room with a dictaphone and started writing my first songs. So I no longer cared what I was doing“.

“Tennis helps in all areas: the values ​​of respect, humility and work (…) help us to have a good head”

Finally the click, in Sweden. Cyril Mokaiesh loses in the second round, he has a week to wait to return. “I didn’t leave my room. I wrote my first songs with my dictaphone and my guitar. And there, I said no, it’s useless. I can’t invest money, time, pretend. I have always, always lived this sport living it with passion, even in the most difficult times. I was very attached to my goals and there I felt that I was completely away from them. I felt it would be final. My decision was pretty quick. It’s been maybe six months since I won the French title at the age of 18“.

Cyril Mokaiesh (second from right), with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (center) and Richard Gasquet (left).
Cyril Mokaiesh (second from right), with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (center) and Richard Gasquet (left). / CM files.

But it’s not about forgetting the values ​​of tennis. They will follow him throughout his career and throughout his life. “I believe that tennis helps me in all areas: the values ​​of respect, humility and work, believed Cyril Mokaiesh. I think if we put Rafael Nadal in a company tomorrow, he would have no problem fitting in. These are universal values ​​that mean that, [qu’on soit] singer or nurse, it helps us to have a well-made head. Preparing an album or concert is not the opposite of preparing for major tournaments or competitionsCyril Mokaiesh has released five albums, including his latest, Dyade. Tennis follows him everywhere, but without pursuing him.

“Childhood memories, a mirror of the passing of time”

At a time when retirement sounds like Tsonga, Monfils, Simon, Cyril Mokaiesh is not indifferent. “It hurts me, “ admits the singer. “Of course it does something to me. I think of them because I admire what they have done. In fact, it’s a page that revolves around them, [pas] for me. But they have been a part of my life. I cheered them on and vibrated in front of my TV. And sometimes I got angry too. Somewhere, I was a little with them. In fact, it is a mirror. It’s as if you come across a photo of yourself at the age of twelve, these are the memories of childhood, a mirror of the passage of time.“.

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