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bwguy
Jan 9th, 2005, 12:27 PM
Sesil's devilish charm will grow on you

Charles Bricker
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Published January 9, 2005

It was little more than two years ago, at the Eddie Herr juniors on the grounds of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, and Sesil Karatantcheva -- the very same playful and mischievous Bulgarian teenager who once threatened to kick Maria Sharapova's butt -- walked up to Nick Bollettieri, and this conversation ensued:

"Excuse me," she began. "Yes?" said Bollettieri. "Hi, I'm Sesil and I'm 13 and can you come and watch me play?" "No, I'm very busy." "Please come watch me. I'm good."

She badgered Bollettieri until he finally sent her to a court with one of his coaches. A half-hour later, she had a scholarship to the academy, and her career was on the way.

"I was so innocent and so devilish at the same time," Karatantcheva explained, smiling, as we sat talking at the BallenIsles tennis courts in West Palm Beach a month ago. "I mean, you could not really say no to me. If I asked you to do something, it would be impossible for you not to do it."

No one in women's tennis has a smile this sly. Few players, if any, can match Karatantcheva's playfulness. And she'll be approaching top 20 by the end of this year. She's that good.

She's got some distance to make up, though she'll move from No. 133 to perhaps 120 on Monday after her quarterfinal finish last week at Gold Coast, Australia. She had hoped to get straight into the Australian Open, but it now appears she'll have to qualify.

OK. "Whatever," as she would say. She won three matches to qualify at Gold Coast, then defeated No. 43 Maria Elena Camerin and No. 24 Elena Likhovtseva before losing to Patty Schnyder, who is No. 14.

Karatantcheva also is facing the WTA's age-restriction rules, though that has been relaxed a bit this season. She can play nine tournaments, and if she reaches No. 50 she can play additional tournaments by going through a WTA Tour program designed to test her maturity to handle a fuller schedule.

Oh, she's mature, all right. And garrulous. We talked about the Sharapova incident that occurred at Indian Wells last March. Both train at Bollettieri's, and according to Sesil, Sharapova, who went on to win Wimbledon, ducked out of a practice match.

"I'm going to kick her butt off," Karatantcheva told reporters after defeating Magui Serna in the second round at Indian Wells. Sharapova won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"Let's just say I learned my lesson about what I should say and what I should not," Karatantcheva now says. But she's smiling when she says that. "I should be very careful where I say it," she added, laughing.

She's about 5 feet 8 and growing. She's exceedingly athletic and quick around the court. She has technically beautiful ground strokes, and there's no question about the physical part of her game. Bollettieri is plugging in the mental factor.

Sesil travels with her father, who looks like someone's bodyguard and who speaks little English, unlike his daughter, who can regale you for hours. "When I came to the U.S. in 2000 to play the Eddie Herr, my English was very messed up," she said. "I was mixing sentences, places, words, leaving everything in a big mess.

"But eventually I got a lot of American friends, and if I didn't know something, I'd ask. Plus, I was listening to a lot of music, and that's a good way to learn English."

On a tour bursting with fresh revenue after signing a six-year, $88 million sponsorship deal with Sony Ericsson, Karatantcheva becomes yet another attractive personality to go with the Williams sisters and Sharapova.

Serena and Venus, whose games have slipped as they have gone through a succession of injuries and distractions, are trying to stay fit enough to climb back up to No. 1 and 2, and Sharapova, at No. 4, already is almost there.

Yet there are more coming attractions, and Karatantcheva and Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, both 15 and both training at Bollettieri's, are two teenagers that must be followed this season.

"We're good friends, and we're both just starting out. It's good to know someone who is in your shoes, who knows what you feel like," Sesil said.

The only time they have played was in the final of a small tournament just before the 2004 French Open. "I won. You want to win badly, and you do everything you can to win. But out of the court, that has nothing to do with life on the court," she said.

"After the match, we were just chilling and talking, laughing because we both got leather jackets for reaching the final. Mine was orange and hers was purple. We never talked about the match. We're just two teenagers talking about stupid stuff."

Vaidisova, who turns 16 on April 23, had an earlier start in professional play and already is at No. 75. Karatantcheva, who turns 16 on Aug. 8, stepped up her professional play after winning the 2004 French Open juniors.

Somewhere along the way she's going to play Sharapova again. I doubt she'll be ready to do any derriere kicking for a few months, but who knows? If confidence can take you halfway there, she's already into the second set.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/sfl-brickten09jan09,0,7400988.column?coll=sfla-sports-headlines

TatiAnnahølic
Jan 9th, 2005, 12:56 PM
after all she seems a nice girl :)

veryborednow
Jan 9th, 2005, 01:02 PM
Sesil's devilish charm will grow on you
Agh! Where?!

daniela86
Jan 9th, 2005, 01:10 PM
after all she seems a nice girl :)
i agree :yeah: :yeah: and i begin to like more and more the sesilator!!! :) :) :) :) :) :)

TFan1156
Jan 9th, 2005, 01:19 PM
Thanks for the article. It is always great to hear something more about the one and only SESILATOR. Go Sesil. The future is yours... :D

P.S. Here are some very recent pics of THE SESILATOR.

http://www.wtatour.com/global/photogallery/goldcoast/f_16.jpg

http://www.wtatour.com/global/photogallery/goldcoast/f_11.jpg

jrm
Jan 9th, 2005, 02:45 PM
I don't like her ...

jonny84
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:03 PM
She's a character - and am sure we will see her name on grand slam trophies very soon.

wateva
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:09 PM
she's looks nice... i'm sure it's just immaturity... she didn't mean those mean things...

harloo
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:20 PM
She's a character - and am sure we will see her name on grand slam trophies very soon.
She is a character. I like her a little, but we will have to see what she says next to piss someone off. She better not say nothing about the sisters.:( ;)

crazillo
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:41 PM
I neither like nor dislike her.

What she said about Maleeva's mother though is bad....

Martian KC
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:02 PM
I read this, this morning. Made me like Sesil again. And I'm glad she did learn her lesson, even though it was enjoyable hearing such bitchiness again on the tour.:tape:

pla
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:03 PM
bwhuy, thanks for the article. It seems few people can resist her smile :D . This is the third article I read where someone is charmed by that smile.

Off: crazillo, when someone critisize Berberian it doesn't mean it's a critique towards Maggie and a critique is not by default something "bad". ;)

richie boy
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:10 PM
P.S. Here are some very recent pics of THE SESILATOR.


http://www.wtatour.com/global/photogallery/goldcoast/f_16.jpg

She is maturing nicely in all ways :)

¤CharlDa¤
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:14 PM
Sesil was very sweet here in Quebec city....She had a great complicity with Jack Herisset, director of the tourney! Guess she'll come back to win it this year!

jacobruiz
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:31 PM
I think Sesil is a delight and look forward to her success on the tour. And I think Maria took Sesil's pre-match comments to be those of a mischievous child, and she was correct.:)

Crazy Canuck
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:33 PM
No one in women's tennis has a smile this sly.

I find it hard to believe that she can out snerk Hingis :p

the cat
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:37 PM
Good point Becca. Martina's beautiful yet impish smile is #1! :D ;) And it seems like Sesil isn't going to be the trash talker she seemed on her way to becoming.

pav
Jan 9th, 2005, 05:12 PM
http://www.wtatour.com/global/photogallery/goldcoast/f_16.jpg

She is maturing nicely in all ways :)
Sesil looks good! but You could have cropped out that other strange looking person with the double head!! also, old Brickhead or whatever His name is that wrote the article has the usual tunnel vision naming Sharapova and the Willies as being the sum total of personality on the WTA Tour, hasn't He got a mind of His own?

Martian KC
Jan 9th, 2005, 06:13 PM
I find it hard to believe that she can out snerk Hingis :p

They don't call her Chucky for nothin.:D

TheBoiledEgg
Jan 9th, 2005, 06:39 PM
I saw a pretty similar article in late November (Bradenton.com paper when Eddie Herr champs were going on) and they copied it :o & adding new bits

TheBoiledEgg
Jan 9th, 2005, 06:43 PM
http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/sports/10280861.htm

Posted on Sat, Nov. 27, 2004

Mike Henry Tennis
http://www.bradenton.com/images/common/spacer.gif
Karatantcheva could be next

http://www.bradenton.com/images/common/spacer.gif
WTA star
http://www.bradenton.com/images/common/spacer.gif

BRADENTON - When you're constantly busy with tournaments, practice and physical training - not to mention studying and being a normal teenager - nutrition can be found in a banana dipped in peanut butter.

But 15-year-old Bulgarian teenager Sesil Karatantcheva's focus switched from food to play when she learned Friday's hitting partner had asked for a return engagement at 10 a.m. today.

On the main court at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Karatantcheva jumped up and down and laughed in delight because her partner is Bradenton's Tommy Haas, winner this year of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships and the Mercedes-Benz Cup.

"I still don't know what to say," about Haas' request, Karatantcheva said. "I'm, like, shocked. It makes me feel more confident. I'm very honored."

Her reaction was genuine, yet Bollettieri says his protege has long had a strong belief in her ability.

Two years ago, Karatantcheva lost in the first round of the Girls 18s at the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships. She also met Bollettieri courtside as he worked with students.

"I'm right here by the phone, and she's right there, and it's crowded. I think we had 300 or 400 people around the court," Bollettieri recalled.

"She came up to me and said, 'I'm very good. Can you take a look at me?' I said 'I'm sorry, I don't have time.' She came back again. 'But I'm good. You are making a mistake.'

"So you know what I did the next morning? I took her inside (to watch her hit), and in 30 seconds I told all my coaches, 'This girl is going to be great.' "

Six months later, Karatantcheva, who trains periodically at the NBTA, won the French Junior Girls Championship.

Since then, she's been playing professionally on the International Tennis Federation and Women's Tennis Association circuits while being home-schooled by her father, Radoslav, a former Bulgarian rowing champion.

Karatantcheva won an ITF tournament last year in Shenzhen, China, and has risen to a No. 127 world ranking. She reached the third round of the Indian Wells WTA event in March, losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 against Maria Sharapova.

Bollettieri is convinced Karatantcheva's name will be rolling off the tongues of American fans before long.

"Tommy Haas said it - she's very competitive. She has great wheels, man. And a great attitude. She's not afraid to hit the ball, and she's beginning to get a little spin for control."

Bollettieri said Karatantcheva and 15-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, who won the Vancouver Women's Open last summer, could develop into the next Sharapovas.

After hitting with Haas, Karatantcheva leaves with her father for Palm Beach Gardens and a $50,000 tournament that begins Monday, the same day as the Eddie Herr Girls 18s main draw.

"I am a kid technically," she said, her guileless smile proving the point. "I'm definitely not different than anyone here. I'm one of the players."

But she's traveling in real good company.

Mike Henry , sports writer, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2212, or mhenry@bradentonherald.com (mhenry@bradentonherald.com).

blumaroo
Jan 9th, 2005, 07:01 PM
Can anyone describe her style? Is she a powerhitter or does she play like Myskina etc? Judging from the articles and her results, I'm expecting huge things from her.

741852
Jan 9th, 2005, 08:49 PM
I didn't like her at first...but now I do. She seems fun (Martina Jr.II?)

!<blocparty>!
Jan 9th, 2005, 09:25 PM
I like her. She is meant to be lovely in person.

*roddicksinme*
Jan 9th, 2005, 09:30 PM
Sesil is SUPER...one of the nicest players I have ever met...she would say hi to me everytime we walked pass eachother :woohoo:
go Sesil you rock :kiss:

SerialKiller#69
Jan 9th, 2005, 09:47 PM
Sesil is surely someone to look forward to. I hope to hear more controversial comments from her. I've watched Nicole play once and I wasn't impressed at all.

TFan1156
Jan 9th, 2005, 09:51 PM
Sesil is surely someone to look forward to. I hope to hear more controversial comments from her. I've watched Nicole play once and I wasn't impressed at all.

It is all there fans, "the total package." Sit back and enjoy yourselves, watching the rise of THE SESILATOR who soon will be holding up grand slam trophies. :D

salima
Jan 9th, 2005, 10:01 PM
"I won. You want to win badly, and you do everything you can to win. But out of the court, that has nothing to do with life on the court," she said.
:) :)

you can say that again, and again. specially to the Thisplayers and Thatplayers haters on this board:kiss:

JenFan75
Jan 9th, 2005, 10:28 PM
I love reading her quotes/interviews. She cracks me up.

WorldWar24
Jan 9th, 2005, 11:04 PM
she's genuine. I haven't seen a player like this since Martina Hingis or Jelena Dokic :)

jdog3008
Jan 9th, 2005, 11:27 PM
:sesil:

go hingis
Jan 10th, 2005, 04:34 AM
I like her, She's got spunk