Read This Interview - Im worried because Sofia Is In The Same Negative Spiral As Before ??
When Sofia Arvidsson let go of her expectations her form returned
Inner harmony gave boost
Sofia Arvidsson from Nordea Tennis Team has climbed dramatically in the world rankings. But, things almost went in the opposite direction. Only a year ago she found herself in the throes of a bottomless negative spiral. Then came the turning point.
22-year-old Sofia Arvidsson is one of three young female tennis players on the Nordea Tennis Team. This is because she has for several years been regarded at the great future hope for Swedish women's tennis. During 2005 Sofia advanced from 176th place to becoming the 67 seed in the world rankings.
But she is cautious when she comments on the future, even though in January 2006 she managed for the first time to reach the third round of Australian Open and later won her first WTA title in Memphis, USA.
– I’ve got to work hard and focus on eliminating flaws in my game. When you get a lot of praise that’s the time to watch out. It’s easy to start to relax.
One explanation for her wait-and-see attitude is that she now knows what misfortune means.
– I love sports and things have always come easy to me. Nothing beats winning; it’s such a kick. But I entered an entirely new world when as a senior I had to face the world elite.
Confused and insecure
A year ago Sofia was seeded around 100 and faced rising expectations. 2005 started however with a hard winter and spring and the matches didn’t go Sofia’s way. There were many who had opinions as to what she should or shouldn’t do. Sofia had no trainer and felt both confused and insecure. She trained and played in Malmö, life became hurried and stressful and she saw her home in Halmstad far too seldom.
When Sofia lost the final in Falkenberg Ladies to the 16-year-old Johanna Larsson she experienced this as a tremendous setback. Johanna Larsson was at the time ranked 850 in the world.
Doubt began to fester
– I have always found it easy to take a critical view of myself and I was in a negative spiral. Everything felt dreadful. But help was equally unexpected as it was close at hand. On the same day as the final in Falkenberg she travelled to Paris for the French Open (a Grand Slam event which alongside US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open is one of the world’s biggest tennis competitions) in the company of her younger brother Fredrik. Fredrik was in a radiant mood and this rubbed off on Sofia.
Among the top players
Once she had found harmony she began to relax, ignored everyone’s expectations and started playing brilliant tennis. She qualified for the tournament and reached the second round. Suddenly she was in the position to be tested against the top players, despite her relatively low ranking.
On returning home everything started to fall into place. Now she trained in Båstad, a half-hour away from home, and a life beyond tennis became once again possible. Tennis high school coach Henrik Holm and Sami Seppanen set up a tough training programme that pushed Sofia harder than ever before. The results were soon forthcoming. She became more agile, stronger, improved her serve and – not least– more self-confident. Her newly gained power prompted a string of successes, with a place in the finals in Quebec as the most notable.
– The mental aspect of tennis is a key factor. The stronger you feel, the better your self-confidence. My goal is to be among the top 20 players.
As determinedly as Sofia steers her opponents on the court with her long, hard shots, she is equally convinced about the necessary ingredients for success:
– You must be serious. But this is not perceived as being cool; no one wants to openly admit being serious. But being serious is a must. This according to Sofia means having a burning enthusiasm to win, sacrificing the after-match parties at night and making a strong effort. Day after day.
Sofia has committed the greater part of her life to sports. Her devotion to tennis began after having accepted an invitation to attend a summer course from a neighbour who was a tennis coach. At the age of seven she was already active in four sports: tennis, table tennis, swimming and football. As a fourteen-year-old she won a Swedish Championship gold medal in her age class in both table tennis and tennis.
Sponsoring makes it possible
When Sofia was fifteen she got her first sponsor. Now she was able to travel and develop by facing international opposition.
– This wouldn’t be possible without sponsoring. Above all this concerns the young players. The Swedish system is based on making a name for oneself by around the age of twenty. How many players haven’t already retired before then?
– Thanks to sponsoring it is, for example, possible for my coach Peter Hjort to come with me on tour. I get help from him to rapidly analyse matches so I can see what I need to improve. This is not something one can do alone.
Sofia Arvidsson from Nordea Tennis Team is a person of exceptional sports talent. As a seven-year-old she was engaged in four sports simultaneously: swimming, football, table tennis and tennis.
Sofia Arvidsson in brief Age 22
Resides with her parents in Kärleken, Halmstad, Sweden
Family Father Yngve, mother Lena and younger brother Fredrik
Work tennis player since she was 15
Leisure time likes to shop, go to the cinema, Sudoku and spending time with friends
How Sofia believes that others perceive her good-natured, calm, stubborn and giggly.