Interesting article I thought I'd share with the Russian fans... This was in the local paper in Sarasota, Fl... along with her picture..
Anna Nefedova needed a little luck and a lot of hard work to make her way into this weekend's
qualifying tournament for the 2001 Sarasota Open
women's tennis tournament.
Friday, Nefedova earned a wild card into the qualifying tournament with her 6-3, 6-3 win over Sarasota's Cristina Moros but the luck and work came into play long before she stepped onto the courts at the Longwood Athletic Club.
The luck occurred when Nefedova arrived in the United States from Moscow just days before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. A few days later and she would not have been able to obtain the necessary visa to come here to play tennis.
The hard work took place after she arrived to resume a tennis career she had put on hold to get her high school degree in Moscow.
Nefedova, who originally came to the United States at age 11 and turned pro at 14, returned to the U.S. after spending the past two years in Russia.
Her weight had ballooned to 180 pounds. "I couldn't even move from one side to the other, I was breathing so hard," Nefedova said.
Now, working with Sekou Bangoura at the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center, she is down to 155 pounds and wants to lose 15 more. She took the time off from tennis because, according to a recent rule by the Women's Tennis Association, players cannot compete regularly on the tour without a high school diploma or something equivalent. "I made a big mistake … now I have to work twice as hard to get back in shape," Nefedova said after playing her fifth match in five days. Her reward for winning the Open's pre-qualifying event is a wild card spot into the 32-player qualifying tournament which begins today at The Meadows Country Club. This means she must win three more matches in succession to get a spot in the $140,000 Sarasota Open to be played Monday through April 7.