My 50K Ashland report/player interviews -
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

I just got back from the tournament site a couple of hours ago. The people running the tournament are extremely nice but the town, as a whole, sucks. Ashland is about 20 minutes outside of West Virginia, quite possibly the scariest state ever. I'm about 90% sure there's a KKK branch in the area...

Maret Ani d. Audra Cohen 6-2 7-5.

This match had a crowd about 150, almost all of whom were local middle school kids watching the tennis for the day. The Kolkata tournament should take some notes Audra was attrocious in the first set, mindlessly bashing the ball with no thought and it almost never went in. She began to play more conservatively in the second set, looping her forehand and slicing her backhand. Her forehand is a thing of beauty when she flattens it out and goes in, but all too often that was the shot that sprayed most. Maret was OK and didn't do anything special. She's got to work on her attitude though. There were a couple of times in the second when she started crying (one of those times she was actually leading...). Both of them had pretty bad tempers actually.

The funniest part of the match though was the kids who were watching. They obviously had no idea what was going on, so Audra's camp would applaud when she hit a winner, there'd be a 5 second pause, and then all the kids would start applauding. One of the girls in Audra's camp then applauded once after Ani double faulted and then all the kids followed suit Ani shot that chick a look of death.

Varvara Lepchenko d. Surina De Beer 6-0 6-3

Poor Surina tried her best, but was just out of her league here. She kept slicing her returns of serve and they either went into the net or landed short enough so that Varvara would tee off for a winner. Apart from Varvara's serve, which has about three different hitches, her game looked extremely impressive and she's got to be one of the favorites to win this event. She looks like she's returned to her old top 100 form.

Leanne Baker d. Salome Devidze 3-6 7-6 6-2

Leanne has an unbelievable volley and it was probably the most impressive shot I saw all day. The only problem is that she doesn't have a dependable route up to the net. Salome has a nice ground game and is way better than her ranking suggests, but she's a bit of a mental midget. She served for the match and got broken at love and pretty much checked out once she lost the tiebreak. Leanne was relieved to win, but not happy at all with how she played. She was talking with Svetlana Krivencheva after the match about how her tactics were "stupid."

Rossana De Los Rios d. Christina Wheeler 7-6 4-6 6-0

This was the match of the day, despite the disappointing third set. It was an almost three hour match and I can honestly say that it was a WTA level match. Rossana was belting the crap out of her forehand and showed some great counterpunching skills at times. Christina doesn't have a weapon, but that girl fought her ass off out there. She was behind in almost every single game and had control of very few rallies in the match, but she would keep grinding it out until she could draw an error from Rossana. The third set simply came down to conditioning. Wheeler isn't in bad shape, but she had covered so much ground in the first two sets that she was simply spent by the end of it. Rossana, on the other hand, looked like she could've played a 3 out of 5 set match without an issue. Her daughter was watching the match with some woman and looked bored out of her skull.

Sandra Kloesel d. Vilmarie Castellvi 6-4 (didn't see the second set)

I only saw the first set of this, but would seriously be surprised if Sandra got by Jelena Pandzic tomorrow. Sandra probably hit about two winners the whole set and I didn't see a single one come off Vilmarie's racket.

On a side note, I don't know how this tournament does player housing, but they managed to get some seriously loaded people to volunteer. Stephanie Dubois rolled out in a Jaguar today...

Interview synposis of Kim Couts and Leanne Baker to come...
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 02:50 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:01 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Thanks heaps!

◊ Samantha Stosur ◊

◊ Casey Dellacqua ◊ Olivia Rogowska ◊ Monika Wejnert ◊ Jelena Dokic ◊
◊ Laura Robson ◊ Sabine Lisicki ◊ Timea Bacsinszky ◊ Dinara Safina ◊
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:06 AM
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

I talked to Kim Couts after her win over Alison Riske today and she was an extremely nice girl. She made the decision to turn professional in the end and declined full ride offers from Duke and the University of Florida. She thought about the decision a lot and decided that there was only a certain window of opportunity to play professional tennis and that was it was important to utilize it. It's worked out so far as she started out the year ranked 1100 and is now around 550.

She made it very clear that she was not happy with the USTA's decision to not give her a qualifying wild card at the US Open. She thought she had earned it by forgoing the juniors this year to just play pro events, cutting her ranking in half, and also by winning a 10K in Evansville this summer. That being said, Kim believed she had to let her racket do the talking and beating Riske today and Oudin yesterday, two players who got wild cards over her, was an indication of that. As far as the USTA's assistance with her, she said they've given her minimal financial support and some wild cards along the way.

The one thing that surprised me most was when she talked about the costs of travelling. She said her family was spending roughly $60,000-$70,000 a year on travel expenses alone. That included having her mom coming with her, but didn't include a travelling coach.

Her goals for the next year also seemed very realistic. She wanted to get into the qualifying of the 2008 US Open on
her own ranking, which is definitely attainable IMO. As far as career goals, she wants to get to #1 in the world.

I really enjoyed the interview that I had with Leanne Baker as well. She had an incredibly interesting perspective about life on the circuit. I also didn't realize that she currently has a base in Chicago, hence why she plays a lot of the US tournaments. She talked about the difficulties of transitioning from the juniors to the pros, namely in the financial department. As a junior, she was basically given a free ride and had everything paid for. She believed that nobody properly explained to her the subtle differences about professional life such as a smart playing schedule, deciding which surfaces were best for the body, managing a budget, etc etc.

Ironically enough, her biggest regret was turning down full scholarships to play tennis for American Universities. She said her team had advised her against doing so when she was 18 and that, in hindsight, she would have liked to have gone for a year or two. She wanted to have the University experience and also indulge in some of the partying aspects. She admitted that she had done her fair share of partying on tour in the past, but that as a professional it was only hurting herself.

She also talked about the difficulties of managing a schedule when her doubles ranking is considerably higher than the singles one. Leanne admitted that she was going to stop playing singles last year at the 10K's in New Zealand, but had a change of heart when she won both of them. For the time being though, while she can get direct entry into challenger main draws, there's no reason not to play them.

As far as the rest of her career, Leanne said that she was giving herself 12 months to start making it to Grand Slam level (qualifying of singles, main draw of doubles) and would more than likely retire if that wasn't achieved. For the rest of her career, she wishes to crack the top 100 in singles and admits she still believes that she's capable of winning a Slam in doubles. She's already begun to think about life after tennis though. She's currently enrolled in online sports science courses at the University of New Zealand. Sadly enough though, while she hasn't ruled out teaching tennis or becoming a travelling coach, Leanne admitted that she won't play tennis even recreationally once her career is finished.

I'm interviewing Audra Cohen (by phone) and Stephanie Dubois tomorrow for sure, and hope to get interviews with Alexandra Stevenson, Kristina Brandi, and Varvara Lepchenko that day as well.
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:34 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Middle school kids.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:17 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Wow...that's so weird. I don't understand how you could ever go from playing tennis professionally to never playing again.

"You Worry About Your Jump Rope and Yourself!" -Coral on Battle of the Sexes 2

Running for the cliff again...
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Wow, thanks for the great report. I hope, hope, hope Leanne doesn't give up on tennis...

She's so close to the top 100 right now im doubles, I really hope she can get there sometime soon. A pretty bad loss in doubles -- did you see it? Have you ever seen Nicole Kriz play? Is it a good partnership? I saw Leanne play with Francesca way back in 2004 I think, and they were a good team.

Thanks for the report, and I look forward to more as well!

Go Anne Keothavong, Akgul Amanmuradova, Samantha Stosur, Na Li, Liga Dekmeijere, Tamarine Tanasugarn ,Jill Craybas, Daniela Hantuchova, Natalie Grandin, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Elena Baltacha, Melanie South, Dominika Cibulkova, Caroline Wozniacki, Jie Zheng, Andrea Petkovic, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Thank you Well done.

Venus Williams - My #1 forever.
Angelika Roesch & Andrea Petkovic & Mona Barthel
Victoria Azarenka & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Audra Cohen??!?!!? Please Ask her why She has not TRansitioned well from the NCAAs and how the transition itself has been!!!!!!!!!!!
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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 07:42 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Thanks for the info on Rossana's match. The woman watching with Ana Paula would have been Rossana's mother. I hope you had a great day, and hopefully sometime you can catch up with Rossana and ask her a question or two of those that I sent you if you get a chance!

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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Man, it sounds like life on the pro circuit (other than top 50 players) really sucks. it seems as though it costs more money than you make, which defeats the purpose of being professional
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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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DiyasStephensIshizuVan UytvanckMcHale
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Re: My 50K Ashland report/player interviews

Wow Leanne Thats why I love her

Great win today! Its great that her goals are still high, and people dont realise how good Leannes serve and net play are. Everyone writes her off, but I bet have never seen her play before. If she could ever get a good partener, she could sail into the top 50 of doubles. Her singles is on the way up now, which is great

Good luck tomorrow against Rossana, I'll be rooting for you!

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