Valerie Knibbs, or as we all knew her, just plain old Val,passed away last night in her sleep after a short battle with the dreaded cancer.
As her tennis coach over the years it is first and foremost for me to say that it was my honour to have known her and I send my respects to her family.
I have coached over my years as you can imagine a lot of folk - some you forget- some you want to forget and others like Val that leave a print on your memory. She started her tennis with me with the words "Now coach I am not some Sharapova look alike but I want to learn to play this game"
We got on really well and for those of you who never met her she was not the fastest slimmest kid on the block, but wow she had determination.From ball number one she showed me that anything is possible if you as the player have the will to want it..if I remember well her groundstrokes were always good..she found the serve easy but her top shot was her volley..where others would not move to get a volley at the net our Val was lethal. In her short time playing tennis she not only encouraged everyone who played but formed her own Tuesday and Thursday groups, where she would invite a whole crowd of ladies here in Los Gigantes and she would encourage the players to be well dressed on court and keep the language relatively clean…she made it fun.
Her family apartment was behind my court 3 at the Tipsy Terrace Los Gigantes, and many a time while I have been on court I have heard her call out from her terrace "Move those feet coach"- I will miss that, I will miss her humour, I will miss her having fun on the court, I will just miss her!
I have given up in life asking "why" and probably as a practicing non believer have once again been proved correct..why? She gave her all to everyone…raised money for charities..was always there if you needed her and generally was a great loving person…she will be missed and after only a short time she is already missed out here.
If there is somewhere else after you die then I hope there is a tennis court there where Val can continue to play and make people laugh and have fun, which for us on our planet tennis is what it is all about.