Stosur reckons Australia could learn from Russia
June 24, 2004
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Samantha Stosur reckons Australia should send spies to Russia, find out their secret for producing women's tennis champions and adopt their techniques.
Australia's top women's player, Alicia Molik, agreed it's a good idea but if Australia failed to tap into Russia's formula, she's got her own recipe for success.
It starts with Molik, now ranked 29th in the world, breaking into the top 20 - something she's confident she will achieve before the year was out.
She believed the Russians - which boast six women in the top 20 - feed off each other's success.
So once Molik makes the top 20 she thought the likes of world No.41 Nicole Pratt, Stosur (No.86), Christina Wheeler (No.241) and Evie Dominikovic (No.282) could follow in her footsteps.
"Winners and champions come in generations and there's no telling how or when or why but sometimes there's a lot of luck involved," said 23-year-old Molik.
"Once one player gets up there, then the others realise it's not so hard, it's easy to get up there and they all follow suit pretty much.
"They have a lot of great competition between themselves and I think that's why, when you see a lot of Russians play each other, a lot of results have been unsettling and a little bit unpredictable because there is such fierce competition between so many girls which I think is healthy for them.
"Russia have six in the top 20 and we don't have anyone in the top 20.
"I hope in the next couple of years we're going to have girls, six girls, in the top 20.
"But I don't think it's going to be long before I'm there."
Stosur believed Australia's population and geography meant it would never boast the tennis talent of Russia or the United States but she would like to see Australia adopt techniques used by Russia.
"I guess someone has got to find out what they're doing and bring it back to Australia," she said.
Russia's secret to success, according to the president of Russian Tennis Shamil Tarpishev, was to start them young and school them in the old Soviet way of relentless practise.
"The age of seven to nine is the best time for developing speed of reaction," Tarpishev said.
"But once you have missed the boat, the person you train will never play fast enough and it's the most important thing to work on their shortcomings before the age of 12."
Tarpishev was busy training the stars of tomorrow at a new tennis academy in Moscow and said the next batch was even better than those playing now, which doesn't bode well for Australian youngsters hoping to make it on the tennis circuit.
For all the criticisms surrounding women's tennis in Australia and its failure to breed the success the men have enjoyed, Pratt said it was important to give some credit.
"I'm pretty close to my best ranking," she said after losing her first round match at Wimbledon to a wildcard.
"Alicia is at her best ranking, Sam is at her best ranking so the three girls that are there are obviously playing well over a 52 week period."
Molik and Wheeler have the chance to improve their rankings when they play at Wimbledon tomorrow.
Wheeler, who qualified for the main draw, was due to face world No.93 Tatiana Perebiybis from Ukraine in the opening round while Molik is up against American Teryn Ashley in the second round.