Arina and Brandy spread joy amongst fellow players at Tashkent Open 2010
By MICKY AIGNER/ VICTORIA KHODJAEVA
Media Team Tashkent Open 2010
Tashkent, September 19: These days it hardly surprises when you find players on the WTA Tour walk around with man’s best friend – the dog.
In fact, parading their canine companions turns out to be as normal as showing off fashion accessories something quite typically found among the younger players from former Soviet republics. Back in time, Martina Navratilova had observed that there were usually three to five players with dogs at any stop-over during her playing days. It was a number that kept rising during the 90’s, but then declined.
These days’ the trend with players’ is adding-on another dog to their collection. The Tashkent Open 2010 was no different with Russian starlet Arina Rodionova showing off her Japanese Chin (also known as the Japanese spaniel), which incidentally is her third acquisition in her playing career.
The 3-pound four-legged companion named Brandy, not much longer than a lap-top with legs, scampered happily outside the hospitality area of the Olympic Tennis Centre. A sight that was hard to miss as Brandy, for every passerby, was an instant hit owing to midget features.
Brandy was bought in Belarus about two months ago. But then there’s another story Arina reluctantly explains. “Over the year I lost two of my very dear pet dogs – Lora and Garris – due to old age. It was quite obvious that I wanted to have another dog to fill in the void,” she explained.
Fact is no sooner she arrived in Uzbekistan, Arina tweeted: In Uzbekistan! Just got new dog. Incidentally, Arina loves animals a lot, including horses and has dogs listed as her second-best admiration apart from adoring Swiss Miss Martina Hingis.
According to Arina dogs offer diversionary companionship and help relax on bad-days.
Mostly, though, the dogs help players unwind and forget, if only momentarily, how different their lives are from those they used to live.
Having made her point, Arina is quick to add the realistic part, which is not being able to take along her four-legged companion. “It’s a gamble you know.” she explains and adds “it becomes difficult as hotels don’t permit dogs in rooms.”
For Arina, Tashkent has turned out to be good. “The hotel allowed me to keep Brandy. So basically I had no problem in Tashkent.”
On whether she likes tiny dogs or dogs of any size, Arina says, “tiny dogs have their advantages they can be smuggled in bags into the hotel!”
While tiny dogs has been part of the touring entourage of women’s tennis players for decades, the worry that Arina and many players has in mind is someday restrictions by the travel industry and tournaments may lead to dogs not being part of the players’ must-take needs when on the move.
Tour stops, like Miami and the French Open, do not allow dogs on the grounds at all. Others do not allow them on the practice courts. Likewise, travelling to England is a “no-no” for dogs, while to the Middle East or Asia it is all about where the stop-over city is.
But before any ruling is put in place, for Arina it’s her black and white pet that’s helping sooth her mind. “My fellow players like Brandy. It’s like a toy for them,” she boasts before adding “let me see if Brandy turns out to be lucky.”
On a more serious note, for Arina it does not matter, “I love dogs and that’s that.”