When Robin Haase started out this year, he likely didn’t imagine that he’d become the most recognisable babysitter in the Netherlands.
But once the Dutchman returned home in early March and remained there due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he felt inspired to help after seeing how parents working in the healthcare sector struggled with childcare. He took to Instagram last month and offered to babysit for parents that still needed to work, encouraging his followers to message him if help was needed.
“I had a lot of requests and that was great, but could only do so much because you put yourself and others at risk by being around a lot of people,” Haase said to ATPTour.com. “I did it two times, though, and it was really fun and nice to help out. The only babysitting I’d ever done before was for a nephew about 15 years ago, so I didn’t really have any experience, but it worked out well.”
Haase also received suggestions from fans and followers about ways to help. He turned his attention to being of service and still hopes to follow through on some of the more unique requests.
“For the first two-and-a-half weeks, I was helping others non-stop,” Haase said. For one kids’ 10th birthday, he normally celebrates by going with his parents to a restaurant. Since the restaurant was closed, I decided to buy a game and bring it to him myself. When it was my birthday recently (on 6 April), he surprised me with a video message, which was very nice of him.
“A guy also messaged me who had been working out for several months and asked if I’d go running with him to help him stay motivated. We haven’t done it yet because he lives two-and-a-half hours away, but it’s a great idea and something that I’d really like to do. You can do it outside and be spaced apart from each other, but it’s also an activity to do together and I think that’s important now.”
Looking for ways to give back has been part of Haase’s life long before the current pandemic. He regularly volunteers his time at ATP Tour events for community outreach and hospital visits, but opted to do so quietly in order to avoid publicity.
“I always try to help other people whether or not I’m playing tournaments. I just didn’t put it out on social media or the news because I enjoyed doing it, but it was also for them,” Haase said. “I’ll go to hospitals and visit people who love tennis or kids who love sports in general, talk with them or maybe go on a walk together. But I’m taking a step back from some of this now, thinking about myself and what I can do to get fit again.”
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Although he recently bought a bike, the COVID-19 outbreak has currently halted his tennis and fitness training. Haase admitted that he isn’t certain how his body will respond when he resumes a rigorous schedule on Tour, but is eager to begin competing as soon as possible.
“I have a very bad knee, but I got used to the pain because I kept on playing. But now that I’m not and will have to start up again, I’ll have to go through hell again with the pain. I think I’ll be able to handle it, though, and am really looking forward to playing,” Haase said. “Competing and playing for big crowds are the things I miss most. I see myself not only as a tennis player, but also as an entertainer.”