Coetzer not about to quit
Coetzer not about to quit
By Michael DiRocco
Times-Union sports writer
April 18 2003
The Florida Times Union
AMELIA ISLAND -- Amanda Coetzer has no idea how much longer she will play professional tennis, but she knows 15 years is not quite enough.
"Basically, I like it," Coetzer said when queried about the future following her third-round 7-6 (2), 6-3 loss to No. 10 Elena Dementieva yesterday morning. "I really enjoy the challenge. It's as simple as that."
Coetzer, who was seeded eighth here this week, turns 32 in October. At that point, only three active players on the WTA Tour will be older: Patricia Tarabini (who will turn 35 on Aug. 6), Els Callens (33 on Aug. 20) and Nicole Arendt (34 on Aug. 26). Coetzer's age -- she is sometimes more than 10 years older than her opponents -- hasn't slowed her.
She entered this week's tournament ranked No. 16 in the world after finishing last season ranked No. 21 -- her first season-ending ranking outside the top 20 since 1992.
It hasn't been easy, though. Her size (5 feet 2 1/4) works against her in today's era of the big hitters. When she turned professional in 1988, few players had power games. Now, most do. That has forced Coetzer to become a fitness freak.
"Most girls now are in great shape," Coetzer said. "They're physically stronger than they were a few years ago. I have to keep lifting [weights] to stay competitive. I've had to try and add power to my game [and] at the same time try and neutralize their power. It's been fun -- sometimes it's a challenge -- but it's been fun."
Coetzer has been more than competitive this year. She won at Acapulco -- her third title since 2000 -- and she reached the final at Memphis, where she lost to Lisa Raymond. The start of this season reminded her of 1997, when she had the best year of her career and finished the season ranked No. 4.
The start was so encouraging that she began to think about cracking the top 10 again.
"I had a really good start this year and all of a sudden that didn't seem that farfetched," Coetzer said. "It's a really long year, and you have to perform every single week. That's the main challenge. I know I can have good weeks every once in a while, but if I can do it like I did in '97 ... that's the debate -- whether you can keep it up week in and week out."
When she believes she can't do that anymore, she'll retire. That's not going to be any time soon.
"I feel like I'm in a stage where it's actually a little easier," Coetzer said. "Six years ago, you're sort of oblivious to the end [of her career]. Right now, I'm more aware of the fact that it's not going to last forever, so I really appreciate what I'm doing even more. I want to cherish and embrace the last few years."