Long-distance Dokic stays out of the frame for national duty
By Linda Pearce
May 24, 2006
JELENA Dokic is Australia's 20th-ranked woman tennis player, but there the formal association ends. Dokic seems unlikely to accept Tennis Australia's invitation to join its Fed Cup or Australian Institute of Sport squads due to concerns about the nature and accessibility of the coaching and sports science assistance on offer.
"The offer from Tennis Australia has been there for a while; the issue is that there are some geographical constraints that make it very difficult to activate the offer," Dokic's manager Pat Cunningham said.
"The coaching is there and available and Jelena's been working hard over in Europe on her game personally on her fitness and working with a coach locally and what she does need is someone with her pretty much full-time to get her game into shape.
"It's not as though she doesn't want the help at all, she's very much appreciative. The TA offer is a lovely one through (Fed cup captain) Dave Taylor, but she probably needs a little more attention than that in the short term."
Cunningham, speaking from London, said no final decision had been made, with Dokic intent on restoring her disastrously low ranking of 683 down from a peak of No. 4 less than four years ago.
Having struggled with what her agent describes as "a variety of little niggling injuries", Dokic has played only one match for a first-round qualifying loss in a Biarritz Futures event last month since her tearful first-round exit from the Australian Open. Now fully fit and reportedly working with Croatian coach Dado Majoli, she requires a wildcard into what is likely to be her next tournament, a Tier IV WTA event in Italy next month.
"Right now, she's head down, tail up, focusing on getting her game back into shape," Cunningham said.
"Her ranking is obviously a long way down; she's looking at getting some playing opportunities to get some matches under her belt.
"But she's as determined as ever. She's very, very committed to getting her tennis back on track. It's been very frustrating for her with all the injuries."
Dokic also spoke last week to player development director Craig Tiley, the architect of the new support system that has replaced cash handouts with direct coaching, training and medical assistance.
She is ineligible to represent Australia at Fed Cup or Olympic level again until 2007, having played for Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, but efforts nevertheless have been made to include her in the national program. The offer of assistance is open indefinitely.
Craig's made it very clear he's got a very good strong strategy, and he said, 'Look, we're not just going to throw money at players, we're going to provide them with the infrastructure'," Cunningham said. "There are some logistical constraints that don't allow that to be fully activated, but Jelena is in touch
and (will be again) as the tour comes to Europe."