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View Full Version : My 50K Ashland report/player interviews


CoryAnnAvants#1
Sep 27th, 2007, 02:45 AM
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:p 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:lol: 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...

rated_next
Sep 27th, 2007, 02:50 AM
thanks :worship:

Sammy 4 eva!!!
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:01 AM
Thanks heaps!

Drake1980
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:06 AM
Thanks!

CoryAnnAvants#1
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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.

njnetswill
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:34 AM
Middle school kids. :lol:

Rtael
Sep 27th, 2007, 05:17 AM
Wow...that's so weird. I don't understand how you could ever go from playing tennis professionally to never playing again. :shrug:

Ben.
Sep 27th, 2007, 05:26 AM
Thanks :)

brunof
Sep 27th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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! :D

Highlandman
Sep 27th, 2007, 06:28 AM
Thank you :) Well done.

cheo23
Sep 27th, 2007, 06:29 AM
Audra Cohen??!?!!? :tape: Please Ask her why She has not TRansitioned well from the NCAAs and how the transition itself has been!!!!!!!!!!!

Hayato
Sep 27th, 2007, 07:42 AM
Thanks for the info on Rossana's match. :D 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! :bigwave:

mckyle.
Sep 27th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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 :shrug:

-sugi-
Sep 27th, 2007, 08:40 AM
Thanks :)

Mana
Sep 27th, 2007, 10:27 AM
Wow :hearts: Leanne :worship: 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 :yeah:

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

kittyking
Sep 27th, 2007, 11:50 AM
If Leannes shot selection was better she would be top 200, but as it stands shes yet to break the top 250 mark since debuting on the tour over 10 years ago

Will she break the top 250....only time will tell

DutchieGirl
Sep 27th, 2007, 12:06 PM
Fantastic report! Thanks!

auntie janie
Sep 27th, 2007, 01:20 PM
Great reports, thanks! :)

I speculated a day or two ago in the Ashland thread that I thought Couts might have been motivated in her win over Oudin by having been passed over for a USO QWC -- which Oudin got -- and it's interesting to learn that it's true. It's too bad she missed out on that experience, but really, it probably worked out better for her that she did miss out, because most of the girls who got one performed poorly and probably left NY feeling bad, while Kim ended up with prime motivation to fight like a dog out there and prove the USTA wrong. :armed:

Steph in a Jaguar! In Ashland, Kentucky, who'd've thought? Love it. :lol:

Just Do It
Sep 27th, 2007, 01:22 PM
Thanks.

Try to take some pics of Stevenson.

CoryAnnAvants#1
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:07 PM
EffieDeenaLorellMan, 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 :shrug:Today 06:42 AM

Unfortunately, with pro tennis, you have to spend money to make money. There are ways to cut the costs a little bit though. For Kim Couts, her stepdad is her coach. This tournament also offers free player housing with host families and players had the option to sign up for a pro-am with local players that paid them $75 for two hours (and potentially up to an extra $250 more if their team won). Part of the reason Leanne has the base in Chicago now is simply because it was too expensive to keep flying from New Zealand. At this level though, the players are breaking even or going into debt with their winnings.

Most of the players seem to come from fairly comfortable backgrounds. The seeded players here who have played a few of the main draws in slams this year seemed okay with money. Leanne also said she had "funds saved up from when she was younger," but I didn't ask whether that meant money from the New Zealand tennis federation or some sort of trust fund she has.




auntie janieGreat reports, thanks! :)

I speculated a day or two ago in the Ashland thread that I thought Couts might have been motivated in her win over Oudin by having been passed over for a USO QWC -- which Oudin got -- and it's interesting to learn that it's true. It's too bad she missed out on that experience, but really, it probably worked out better for her that she did miss out, because most of the girls who got one performed poorly and probably left NY feeling bad, while Kim ended up with prime motivation to fight like a dog out there and prove the USTA wrong. :armed:

Steph in a Jaguar! In Ashland, Kentucky, who'd've thought? Love it. :lol:

Yeah I saw that point you made and that was why I asked:lol:

It motivated her, but she also didn't seem bitter about it. Kim said that she gets along with the other girls, and she and Alison actually had a pretty friendly chat at the net after their match. Much more than the two finger handshakes I saw all day:rolleyes:



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

Leanne pretty much said that it was a matter of wanting to do other things. She's been travelling abroad for tournaments since she was 13 and even though she loves her job, there are days when she can't imagine looking a tennis racket once she stops. That being said, a lot of tennis players say this when they retire and end up playing recreationally after an extended break. It's in their blood.

I don't want to put words in Leanne's mouth at all, but I also got the impression that she was halfway out the door a little bit with tennis. Taking online college courses and admitting that she would take on a role as travelling coach at this very moment if it didn't affect her tennis schedule were a couple of red flags.


Heading to the courts now...it's raining at the moment and supposed to continue all day. They have indoor courts here, but those look like they're being used for lessons/clinics, so I don't know if they can even move the matches inside. Bad for the tournament, but good for me as all the players will be around with nothing to do. I'd like to get done what needs to get done and leave Ashland ASAP:lol:

¤CharlDa¤
Sep 27th, 2007, 03:48 PM
I hope you have a lot of fun today, meeting steph, it should be :D Hopefully she'll win both matches for you today :angel:

Thanks a lot fot he reports.

As for Vilmarie, I was wondering if you had already seen her play before, and how her game compared to it. She has been having so much trouble in the past years. I've seen her play a lot in the past, she is an awesome lady, and had a very solid game, but when I saw her earlier this year, it seems like she lost some of her spunk.

Thanks a lot for the report, it would be great to have one of Steph against Katy ;)

Petkorazzi
Sep 27th, 2007, 04:15 PM
Thanks :)

Hope Salome's on the way back, though she shoudlnt have choked it :o

CoryAnnAvants#1
Sep 28th, 2007, 01:09 AM
Sandra Kloesel d. Jelena Pandzic 6-4 7-4

This match was basically the final. If Sandra plays the way she did today through the rest of the tournament, she should have absolutely no problems winning this. From the very first point, both of them were teeing off on their groundstrokes. Occasionally one of them would throw up a defensive lob or loop a shot to stay the point, but otherwise they were hitting extremely hard and flat. Pandzic served for the second set, but looked to get a little bit tentative. She's got an impressive game though and I think we'll see her in the top 100 within 12 months if she keeps progressing at this rate. As far as Sandra goes, she was a completely different player from the match she played yesterday. Way more aggressive and focused in the match. It seems that her issue is consistency from match to match more than anything.

Leanne Baker d. Rossana De Los Rios 4-6 6-3 6-4

I have no way of proving this, but my assumption is that Rossana was exhausted out there today. She's never been a hugely emotional player on court, but she's been screaming and throwing her racket on court so much in the last two matches. The win in Albequerque last week and the almost three hour match she had yesterday probably took it out of her. Leanne played a much smarter match tactically today than she did yesterday and looked more willing to be aggressive. She got a bit tight towards the end, but closed out the match in style with an ace.

Alexandra Stevenson d. Jennifer Widjaja 7-6 6-3.

Alex looks to be slowly but surely returning to form. Her serve is absolutely massive...a couple of times Widjaja was almost sent flying into the back fence by the sheer force of it. Widjaja doesn't have a weapon on her, but is quick and has a smart counterpunching game. The change of surface to a fast indoor hard court though (because of the rain today) really didn't suit her game. I think Alex could stand to get a bit quicker and improve on her volleys (there were at least half a dozen sitting volleys that she botched), but her attitude was impressive out there. She kept encouraging herself and even though she was clearly disgusted by a few shots she hit, she didn't let it affect her in the next point.

Kristina Brandi d. Katya Afigenova 6-4 7-6

I wasn't really paying attention to this match because it was going on at the same time as Alex's, but it was extremely high quality. Katya was belting the living shit out of the ball and Kristina did a good job of counterpunching and getting herself back into the rallies. The only problem with Katya's game is that it's only one speed and extremely predictable. She needs to get some variety in order to keep progressing up the ranks.


I wasn't able to get interviews with Dubois or Kloesel today, but Steph said she would make it a point to do the interview tomorrow since it's my last day out there. The Stevensons, for all the shit they get, were extremely helpful and cooperative as far as setting up an interview time tomorrow. We were supposed to do one today, but Alex didn't get off court until 7:00 and needed to get treatment on her shoulder, which I totally understand.

In all honesty, I'm a little surprised at how inaccessible and unhelpful several of the players were (not giving names). They were people who refused to do an interview before a match, yet weren't going on for another five hours at least and literally sitting there, doing absolutely nothing. I wasn't sure if it was because I'm not technically part of the media and doing this for a journalism paper at my University, but apparently it went beyond me as well. The local newspaper and The Tennis Channel have also been having a lot of issues getting players to talk. With the exception of the Stevensons, who legitimately have had bad experiences with the media and things written about them, there's no excuse for any of the players to be pulling that IMO. They couldn't even get anyone to go to the local middle school and talk. That being said, some of the players have been beyond friendly and cooperative and I'm extremely thankful for that.

I called Audra Cohen at 11:30 for the interview today, but apparently woke her up :o Probably blew my chances for that one, but I'll try again tomorrow afternoon. I have definite interviews set up tomorrow with Koz (from The Tennis Channel), Dessie Samuels (the tournament official), and Jack Ditty (the tournament director and father of Julie Ditty). I don't have concrete times for the rest of the interviews, but I talked to Kristina Brandi, Alexandra Stevenson, and Stephanie Dubois and should get to talk to them after their matches tomorrow.

Interview with Alison Riske and the coach of Irina Falconi/Nina Pantic to come.

AJZ.
Sep 28th, 2007, 01:59 AM
Really cool :):) Thanks lots!

¤CharlDa¤
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:13 AM
Did you see any of Steph vs Katy?

Hopefully you'll get to meet her tomorrow :)

CoryAnnAvants#1
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:24 AM
Did you see any of Steph vs Katy?

Hopefully you'll get to meet her tomorrow :)

I did, but only the last two games. I was busy doing a couple of interviews then. The big thing that I saw was that after Steph lost a point, she whacked a ball off the back fence and it ricocheted into the audience, where somebody caught it. The referee immediately asked if the ball hit the guy and he said that he caught it. Lucky break for Steph because that probably would have been an automatic default otherwise.

Hopefully the interview will pan out tomorrow. She definitely has been friendly about it, it's just been bad timing. She was the last match to finish on Tuesday and then the rain threw everyone's schedule off today.

¤CharlDa¤
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:34 AM
That's Steph :lol: Probably would have only been a warning though, because it hit the fence beforehand.

She is incredibly emotional out there but off court, that makes her so adorable!

patricktav2003
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:44 AM
greta job impressif

~Eclipsed~
Sep 28th, 2007, 06:20 AM
that's awesome that Alex is playing better and her attitude is positive. She's really impressed me these past couple of weeks. Are you going to ask her any of the questions that i submitted to you in ur other thread?

Please do.:D

Mana
Sep 28th, 2007, 11:17 AM
Awesome reports! :worship:

Sammy 4 eva!!!
Sep 28th, 2007, 11:26 AM
Thanks Again :worship:

auntie janie
Sep 28th, 2007, 12:52 PM
Thanks again for another great set of match reports. :hatoff:

Tracy Almeda-Singian said the same thing about a lot of the players being unapproachable. It's ridiculous; they're playing a professsional sport, even if at a minor-league level, and part of being a professional is dealing with the media -- even minor-league media ;) . There's really no excuse for it, and I wish you and Tracy would have named names. It's time to Out the bitches of the ITF! :smash: (I just want to make sure I'm not rooting for any of them! :ras: )

brunof
Sep 28th, 2007, 02:06 PM
Thanks again for another great set of match reports. :hatoff:

Tracy Almeda-Singian said the same thing about a lot of the players being unapproachable. It's ridiculous; they're playing a professsional sport, even if at a minor-league level, and part of being a professional is dealing with the media -- even minor-league media ;) . There's really no excuse for it, and I wish you and Tracy would have named names. It's time to Out the bitches of the ITF! :smash: (I just want to make sure I'm not rooting for any of them! :ras: )

I second the "out the bitches" request. Why not? Haha. :tape:

-sugi-
Sep 28th, 2007, 03:29 PM
I second the "out the bitches" request. Why not? Haha. :tape:
I third it :angel:

¤CharlDa¤
Sep 28th, 2007, 03:31 PM
Now that I know it is not Steph, do it! :lol:

King Aaron
Sep 28th, 2007, 06:31 PM
Thanks. :) Really great reads.

Rising Sun
Sep 28th, 2007, 07:26 PM
Looking forward to the interview with Dessie Samuels. :hearts: