If Ploiesti ever existed on the world map of tennis that's because of Mădălina Gojnea . Former European junior champion, finalist at Roland Garros and U.S. Open, Madalina decided to return on court after two years of break, aiming that by the end of 2010, to return in top 200, where she was when she withdrawal.
Enter on Google, type Madalina Gojnea and press "Search". You'll see 15,300 results, and the links takes you to Wimbledon, Roland Garros, U.S. Open, Australian Open, or brings you in sight, names such as Azarenka, Dokic, Jankovic, Ivanovic, Wozniacki, Olaru, Cirstea, Radwanska, Loit, Gagliardi , Poutchek or Paszek, of whom tennis enthusiast should be familiar. What is the relationship between Gojnea and elite female tennis players? The player from Ploiesti was considered, not many years ago, as one of the great tennis hopes. Triple European champion, junior finalist in Grand Slam competitions and a promising debut at senior level, Madalina had all prerequisites to reach the WTA top 100. Suddenly, her career went into obscurity and the name Gojnea, would disappear very fast from the global hierarchy.
Born on a day when the people were busy with parades, August 23, 1987 ( the national day of the communist Romania - biggest hollyday at that time), Madalina first stepped on a tennis court six years later. "I started in Ploiesti, with Professor Dinu Vulpescu. I won all that was to be won in children tournaments, by the time I was 11, Mr. Vulpescu told my parents that would be better to go to Bucharest, because there, would be much easier for me to reach the top. So I went to Bucharest and, for a year, I trained at Progresul Arenas, and then until the age of 17 years at the Romanian Tennis Federation arenas", this is how Madalina Gojnea begins her story . Professor Vulpescu had flair. He developed Madalina to become one of the best junior in Europe, with three continental titles, and began to breathe Grand Slam tournaments air. In early 2003 she passed the first two rounds of the Australian Open, but she was defeated in the 3R by Eden Marama from New Zealand with whom she reached the doubles SF of the competition. Then followed Roland Garros, where she stopped in the semifinals, counting among its victims Kleybanova from Russia, now ranked 29th WTA, and Kateryna Bondarenko from Ukraine, currently the 32nd player in the world. The end of 2003 brought her a QF at the Orange Bowl, a true junior World Championship, where she destroyed Victoria Azarenka with a double 6-1, a plyer who's ranked 6th in the world! A year later, she reached the final at Roland Garros, where she lost to Karatantcheva, who, not after long time, and a fulminant climbng in the senior rankings, was detected positive after a doping control, being suspended for two years. Also she played at Roland Garros the doubles semifinal with her best friend Monica Niculescu, the two played with the trophy on the table later at the U.S. Open. In 2005, Madalina reached the QF's at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and since then, the door to the senior level was wide open for her.
As a senior, Madalina started from down with smaller tournaments, but managed to collect the points needed for a spectacular leap in the WTA ranking. She reached the semifinals at Las Palmas and Lleida, QF at Tenerife and Marseille. She tried her chance in the qualifications at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. And in 2006, in Gorizia (Italy) she defeted Timea Bacsinszky (WTA 51) and the more popular Jelena Dokic from Australia, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open. There were times when the player from Ploiesti won over Emillie Loit, Serra-Zanetti or Bondarenko, important names in the WTA circuit, or when she brought seven wins in singles and one in doubles at the Fed Cup for Romania. "I can say that, that period was the most fruitful period of my career. When I was 17-18 years old I was around 200 WTA, I reached 177 WTA in singles and 235 in doubles, so things seemed to be going very well. I was awarded by the Romanian Federation for the biggest jump in a year recorded by WTA and Mr. Tiriac handed me an award for the most fair-play player in Romania..." Madalina Gojnea , recalls.
The decline began in late 2007. A shoulder injury, combined with a lack of people who would really care for her career, brought her to the end of a road that Madalina just begun. "I was member of a tennis club in Bucharest, I played many matches and, because of a shoulder problem,I couldn't even hold the raquet in hand. At the same club there was Florin Mergea and the people turned their attention to him. I didn't understand why, because I was a Fed Cup member, just as he was in the Davis Cup team, and I had junior performance too ...", says Madalina Gojnea. "And there was something else. When I was 17 years old, being alone in Bucharest, I signed a sponsorship contract extremely disadvantageous for me. It's true that at first, the money, few as they were, were enough to cover some travel expenses to tournaments. Then as I started to play better and better, I started to increase my earnings from tennis. But under that contract I had to give too much money and basically I ended up with nothing" added Gojnea. Because of these problems, Madalina has interrupted her career, but because she could not stay away from tennis, she started to train children at the Ploiesti Chemistry Highschool.
Again from scratch
At 23, Madalina Gojnea realized that she can have a say in tennis. She solveed her health problems and the logging for competition was too big to be kept in bounds. She put her raquets in her backpack and went again on the road. Encouraged by her mother, Minodora, and by her boyfriend, Claudiu Fr‚ncu, known by the fans of soap operas as Dorel from the soap opera "Regina". "My passion for tennis is too high. I was tempted to come back earlier, but now I really felt prepared and determined to get back on court. After two years of break I kinda forget how is it with the tournamants rythm, but after every match I played I realized that I feel increasingly better and that I must go further." The player from Ploiesti was recently in a series of competitions in France, winning several small-scale tournaments, in one of the final she even played a set with her raquet broken. "I want to find a team where I can legitimate and where I can have competition. I got already an offer from a club in France, to play for them in the championship this spring, but I have not decided what to do. I want to go there, but the championship overlap with a series of $ 10,000 tournaments in Romania, where I was assured that I will receive a wild-card, and where I would be better to participate to begin to gather ranking points. Until then, I'll go to some competitions in Croatia", said Madalina.
In search of sponsors
"I would like to return by the end of the year in top 200. This is my aim. I'm physically well, but I need a good sparring-partner to train with" says Madalina. To do so, however, Madalina needs financial support, at least until she will get to climb in the rankings and be able to support herself at tournaments.
Valentin George is the man who contributed to Mădălina's decision to return on court and at the same time he's the one who helps her whenever posible, financially. "I got the idea to get her back on court last summer, after the famous come-back of Kim Klijters. I said that she has much to show and I committed to support her with everything I can. I started knocking at the doors of several rich people, some of them have promised help, but then forgot ... I know that there is a financial crisis, that we go through hard times, but still I hope to find support for the only tennis player from Prahova county who had grat performances in the tennis world. Would be a pity if we couldn't help Madalina to fo forward" said Valentin Gheorghe, whose daughter, Ioana, coached by Madalina, is among the best tennis player in the country at the 12 years old group.
So Madalina Gojnea proposes a bet, the one to return in the world tennis spotlight. But, at least for now, it dosen't depend only on her.