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Curaçao tennis star will play for the Netherlands

RojerWILLEMSTAD--If Curaçao-born tennis professional Jean-Julien Rojer plays on the Dutch Davis Cup team against Finland during the weekend of February 10th-12th, it'll mean he has definitely become a tennis player for The Netherlands.

From that moment, "NED" will be placed behind his name when he plays tennis at other international competitions. Starting next weekend, he will no longer play tennis under the flag of Curaçao.

"It's a pity, but it's the right decision," said Rojer's Curaçao spokesperson Francis Hoyer. "Jean-Julien is certainly aware of this and he has thought hard about it. He finds it painful but he has no other option. It is his choice as sportsman, not as person."

Even though "NED" will soon be placed after his name, Jean-Julien will always remain a good ambassador for Curaçao, because it has a special place in his heart. "The choice for The Netherlands was a rational one."

Apart from playing in the Davis Cup, Rojer also hopes to make it to the Olympic Games in London this summer as tennis player for The Netherlands. It's possible he could play doubles with Dutchman Haase, with the aim to win a medal of course.

If Rojer decides to change his mind and play under the Curaçao flag again, he will have to make that choice before the end of the year, said Hoyer. "If I'm right, it will be three years before he can again play tennis under the Curaçao flag, at least according to the general rules."

That Jean-Julien can immediately switch to The Netherlands now is related to the exceptional circumstance that the Netherlands Antilles were dismantled. At the time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that sportsmen/women who had played under the Antillean flag were to make an immediate choice in playing for The Netherlands or Aruba, since the new countries Curaçao and St. Maarten would not get an own Olympic status.

"If they fail to choose either, they could only play during the upcoming games under the Olympic flag," explained Hoyer, emphasising that this was a difficult choice for his pupil. "However, sometimes you have to make choices that conflict with your feelings, and certainly when it regards top-class sports."

Chairman Roy Bottse of the Curaçao tennis league CLTB can understand Rojer's choice. "He had to do this. Jean-Julien belongs to the absolute world top in tennis.

"He really wants to play at the highest level in the Davis Cup; he wants to participate in the Olympic Games, which is understandable. A top-class sportsman must have this ambition otherwise he shouldn't call himself such. That's the mentality of a top-class sportsman and that's what Jean-Julien Rojer is.

"Moreover, let's be honest, Curaçao tennis has nothing to offer him. Suppose Jean-Julien could participate in the Olympic Games under the Curaçao flag, he would need a doubles partner who has gained an x-number of points on the ATP-list. After all, these are the qualification requirements for the Games.

"However, we don't have a partner for Jean-Julian; someone who is on the ATP-list or for that matter has sufficient points. All things considered, Jean-Julian couldn't play at the Games under the Curaçao flag because there is no double partner who complies with the qualification requirements. That's what I meant with we have nothing to offer him."

On the other hand, Bottse regrets that Curaçao will "lose" a great player and a fantastic ambassador this way. "As sports manager and nationalist, I must say it's a pity. However, as sportsman I understand completely."

"As a former athlete, I also had to make that choice, so I know from personal experience that it's a painful choice. Nevertheless, Jean-Julien Rojer's choice is a logical one of course. One could even say it's a 'good functioning of the Kingdom.' In itself, there's nothing wrong with this.

"Therefore, we will continue to support Jean-Julian because I have no doubt he supports us. We're not losing him as an ambassador; only the three letters after his name in the newspaper will change."

Jean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase weren't able to celebrate a victory after the doubles in the tennis tournament of Zagreb. The duo, formed specifically for the Davis Cup, lost their debut Wednesday evening against favourites Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya.

The first placed Austrians won in two sets: 6-3 6-4 in the Croatian capital city. Melzer and Peya are named 13th respectively 19th on the ATP-list for the doubles. Rojer is placed 32nd now and Haase 97th.

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