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Grafiati
Feb 21st, 2012, 05:20 AM
Are there any fans of Irina Spirlea out there? I loved watching her play and found her personality to be pretty friendly and funny off-court in the two events I watched her practice and play. I have always contended that if she had put away Venus Williams in the 1997 US Open semifinal, she would have won the final. I didn't find Hingis' level at that tournament impressive, and I sensed that Spirlea's confidence and level had been growing all year long. The end of her career seemed to just tail off, but I didn't have the impression that she really cared. It seemed as if she was getting ready to move on to her time away from the sport. I don't have the time to search for info right now, but where is she?

YouTube has next to no videos of her, unfortunately. The 1998 Hilton Head event was a nice showcase of her talent- beating Seles and Davenport on American soil.

I'd love to chat about her; chime in if you wish!

alfajeffster
Feb 21st, 2012, 08:18 AM
I remember seeing her play Serena at the U.S. Open around that time, but I can't remember if it was the same or different year. Another year she gave Seles quite a tussle (I think Irina lost) and afterward Monica remarked to the press that "she plays just like Steffi"! All people remember about Sprlea seems to be "the bump" and Richard calling her a big white turkey afterward. She was a fireplug- a woman after Nastase's own heart, and I did iike to watch her play.

Grafiati
Feb 21st, 2012, 10:33 AM
As far as the US Open: Irina played Monica in 1997 and beat her in the quarters. The next year, she beat Serena in the 3rd round despite having lost to her in the first round of the Australian Open.

Some called Irina a poor woman's Steffi, and it's true that she had a big serve and forehand to complement the slice backhand, but she used the dropshot a lot, didn't move extremely well, and had the distinction of being the first WTA player defaulted from a match!

Matt01
Feb 21st, 2012, 11:56 AM
Some called Irina a poor woman's Steffi, and it's true that she had a big serve and forehand to complement the slice backhand, but she used the dropshot a lot, didn't move extremely well, and had the distinction of being the first WTA player defaulted from a match!


:rolls:

She was one of my favorites. I saw her for the first time in Berlin 1995 when she played a great match against ASV (and lost in 3 sets) and fell in love with her game instantly. Such a great forehand, good serve, nice backhand slice, and those dropshots :drool:

Such a shame that there are so few videos than can be found from her. Maybe someone here can help us :angel:

Anabelcroft
Feb 21st, 2012, 01:38 PM
Some called Irina a poor woman's Steffi

with that kind of game she was number 7 in the world ;)

alfajeffster
Feb 21st, 2012, 01:57 PM
with that kind of game she was number 7 in the world ;)

I think the rest of the world was jonesing for a missing (injured) Graf so much they took whatever they could get. Irina wasn't what you'd call a party waiting to happen on the court, but then neither was Steffi. In comparison, though, Irina gave all sorts of nasty and darting looks and cursed audibly during a match- thing you never got from Steffi the fast-moving cheetah breaking land speed records.

Grafiati
Feb 21st, 2012, 08:41 PM
I would love to share some videos, but I don't have access to my DVDs, and it might take me some time to upload clips for the first time, but that doesn't rule out doing it later on.

I think Irina married her coach- Max Pace of Italy, was it? Does she live there?

Belle de Jour
Mar 31st, 2013, 10:49 PM
Yes, she married Pace and they have two kids together (Tomaso, 11 yo and Francesca, almost 8 yo). They live in Rome. Max Pace and Irina have their own tennis club there and Max coaches both Tomaso and Francesca. Irina became a howsewife, taking care of the kids, and in 2010 got involved in Romania's Fed Cup Team, as the Team Captain.

Belle de Jour
Mar 31st, 2013, 10:51 PM
If you understand italian, there's a little clip on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co4FSt4iXRE

Grafiati
Apr 5th, 2013, 06:16 PM
Thanks, Uncurv.

Rollo
Apr 5th, 2013, 07:14 PM
I kind of liked Irina's rough edges. She was a promise that at least something would happen in a match!

Belle de Jour
Apr 5th, 2013, 07:17 PM
I loved watching her and her game, even though I was a child back then.
What a pity she retired at only 26 :(

Rollo
Apr 5th, 2013, 07:33 PM
I loved watching her and her game, even though I was a child back then.
What a pity she retired at only 26

I agree. for some reason I thought she was older. In many ways she was just hitting what could have been her peak.


A short clip of Irina beating Mary Joe at the 1994 French
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzHJnilyqEI