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Martin Emmrich proposed to his girlfriend on court at Dutch tournament
Michaella Krajicek was able to make a new memory at venue where she had suffered in past
The couple are partners in mixed doubles competitions
On a small tennis court in the Netherlands, love took center-stage.
It had all the ingredients of a romantic fairytale – the nervous suitor down on one knee in front of a crowd of strangers, hoping that months of planning would win the heart of the girl of his dreams.
“I didn’t cry once when I practiced it in front of the mirror, it was the nerves that kicked in when I went on the court,” Martin Emmrich, a doubles specialist seeking to find his life partner, told CNN’s Open Court show.
“I was very afraid that I wouldn’t find any words.”
The German had met his love at the same tournament 12 months earlier – but apart from that, the venue didn’t hold great memories for her.
“She fainted once on that court, had a knee injury on that court,” Emmrich explains.
Fast forward to June 2014, and Michaella Krajicek had just won her opening match of the Topshelf Open, which hosts both men’s and women’s competitions, when Emmrich made his big move.
To her surprise, Emmrich came onto the grass with a microphone in hand.
“I thought, ‘Uh-oh it’s going to happen now, I can’t believe it!’ ” recalls the Dutchwoman, younger sister of former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.
“I was standing there sweaty and wrapped in a tournament towel … It was really romantic.”
Five months of scheming, having involved the tournament’s director three days beforehand, finally paid off as Krajicek said “Yes.”
“I saw some players with tears in their eyes,” Emmrich says.
“Everybody came up and said I have big balls. It’s a big step, and doing it on such a stage…”
A wedding had been on their minds for a long time – three months into the relationship, they were already talking about taking home the biggest trophy of their lives.
By January of this year, Emmrich was already planning how he would propose to his partner.
“I wrote down three papers, corrected them all, practiced 30-40 times in the bathroom,” he says.
In a moment that Emmrich can only describe as “magic,” Krajicek took his hand, hugged him and said yes – to the cheers of joy ringing down from the stands.
Krajicek says she had “no idea” how Emmrich and his few accomplices managed to surprise her.
They are partners both on and off the court, playing in mixed doubles competitions together.
“I go on court, I still love him obviously, but it’s business for me,” says Krajicek.
For Emmrich, who has won three men’s doubles titles with a highest world ranking of 35th last year, the chance to play with her adds another dimension to touring life.
“I totally enjoy it. I feel I am playing more free and easy than actual doubles,” says the 29-year-old.
Although their engagement was broadcast the world over, they are in no rush to get married, with their busy tennis schedules taking priority.
Immediately after the tournament in Rosmalen they headed to Wimbledon, losing in the second round to a pairing that went on to win the title.
“There’s not too many weeks where we are both actually off,” says Krajicek.
The 25-year-old, who has won three singles titles on the WTA Tour and six in doubles, says she has plenty to achieve on-court before starting to think about having a family.
A former junior world No. 1 – she won the U.S. Open girls’ title in 2004 – Krajicek is now ranked outside the top 200 after struggling with health problems in 2012-13, but was as high as 30th at the end of her teenage years.
She has recently had more success in doubles, reaching three WTA finals this year – including Rosmalen.
“For now we just enjoy life and each other, and then everything else comes automatically,” Emmrich says.
Krajicek adds: “We understand that it’s part of it and in five years we will enjoy each other for the rest of our lives, so it’s just the way it has to be.”