Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Cockatoo Island
>> Bryanne Stewart <<
She doubles good times on the court
By DAVID FILKINS, Staff writer
First published: Saturday, July 17, 2004
SCHENECTADY -- These are the good days for Bryanne Stewart. She bounces up and down on the tennis court with a smile on her face. She's enjoying herself.
She's earned it. Things haven't always been fine for the 23-year-old Australian and member of World TeamTennis' New York Buzz.
Stewart, who turned pro in 1998, stumbled through the 2003 season after having a career year in 2002. Her singles ranking, as low as 135 in 2002, had tripled in just a year's time, and she considered giving up the sport she had been playing since she was eight years old.
"At that time I was thinking about stopping tennis," Stewart said. "But I realized that I still loved the game.
So rather than toss out her racket, Stewart created a new plan. She had been playing both singles and doubles for the past five years, and was never able to focus on her game.
"I was kind of in two minds all the time, asking myself whether I wanted to play singles or doubles," Stewart said.
The 5-foot-9 blonde's fortune began to change in January at the Australian Open. Stewart was home, with a lots of followers, and had settled on entering just the doubles.
"I went to Melbourne only looking to play doubles," Stewart said. "I really enjoyed playing with Sam (doubles partner Samantha Stosur), and that was the turning point in my life. It was a typical Australian afternoon. There were lots of Aussie's there, they had all been drinking, and they were all hollering for me. It was an unbelievable atmosphere."
Although Stewart and Stosur lost in the first round, suddenly Stewart's game worked. Her serves were harder, her ground strokes more accurate, and her confidence soared.
Stewart has simplified her game since then. She now considers herself a full-time doubles player, and has seen almost immediate results. In the six months since the Australian Open, her doubles ranking has improved to a career-best 71st in the world.
"I'm much happier," Stewart said, "and I am concentrating on just going out there and enjoying myself."
But not every game is a winner. The Buzz lost 20-17 to the defending WTT champion Delaware Smash in front of 800 fans at MVP Stadium in Schenectady. Stewart and playing partner Viktoriya Kutuzova lost 5-1 in women's doubles, but she rebounded to win 5-2 with Justin Bowers in mixed doubles.
But Stewart doesn't beat herself up after losses anymore. She's gradually moving up the tennis ladder, and is content where she is in her life right now. Of the $300,000 Stewart has made as a professional, a large portion of it is used to fly herself around the world simply to compete. Such is life unless you're an elite player with sponsor support.
"It does cost a lot to compete," Stewart said. "But if you're a bit careful, you can still make money. Right now I am just enjoying myself, and waiting to see what happens next."
Inspiration is for amateurs
Faves: Mona Barthel / Samantha Stosur / Roberta Vinci
Last edited by Mateo Mathieu; Oct 7th, 2004 at 12:21 PM.