The best opportunity to celebrate this 3000th post is the following article from Luxembourger Wort of today about Claudine Schaul!
It is a great article looking back at her most beautiful successes, her feelings during her slump and her new ambitious with her new coach!
It took me two hours to translate the whole article from German to English but it was worth it. I have furthermore scanned two pics accompanying this great article about nice Claudine Schaul! Enjoy!
Ambitious Claudine Schaul wants back into Top 100!
With new self confidence in season 2006!
After a difficult season, Claudine Schaul would like to attack again in the upcoming year in order to enter the Top 100 again.
In the year 1998, the woman from Garnich served for the first time in an ITF-tournament, in Denain (FRA). A year later the talented Luxembourgian stood in two semifinals in Challenger-tournaments and appeared on the 30 August for the first time, as number 718 in the WTA world rankings. At the Seat Open 2000 in Kockelscheuer, 1.69 meter tall player celebrated its premiere in a WTA tournament. The first participation in a qualification of a Grand Slam in Wimbledon followed in 2001. The upwards trend continued and in the following twelve months, she decided the Challenger-tournaments in Petingen (LUX) and Vaihingen (GER) to her favours.
A successful career developed itself. At the US Open 2003 Claudine Schaul was standing in the main draw and surprised in the first round by beating Anna Smashnova (17 of the world at the time). Due to her third round, her best result in a Grand Slam, the right handed advanced on place 75 of the world rankings. In 2004, the large breakthrough seemed to happen. At the „Internationaux de Strasbourg“ Schaul won her first title by beating nobody else than the current number one of the world, Lindsay Davenport (USA) in the final, jump up to career high rank 41.
A lot of pressure
The past season wasn’t optimal at all for the player of the TC Arquebusiers. The defeats heaped and the disappointment was large too. The 22-year-old divides the dreadful season in three phases. At the beginning of the year, it wasn’t running promising for the young player of Garnich. The youngest Indoor-country master of all times had many points to defend and the pressure was weighting on her shoulders. A year after the tournament victory in Strasbourg, Schaul was in a slump and gave away many world rankings places
„Subsequently it should have gone better, because the pressure faded, however one does not come out of such a, hole‘ from today on tomorrow.“From the qualification to the US Open onwards she performed a lot better:„I didn’t play good tennis to be honest, but I nevertheless fought, could win again two games in a row and gave myself confidence again. It was important to play again several games in the so called challenger tournaments. I played the best tournament of the year in Pittsburgh where I reached the quarterfinal. This was a successful year end and that made me courage for the future.“
On the sporting downward trend, the separation of her coach Norbert Palmier followed in March. First of all the player from Garnich believed , the Frenchman could help her to get out of her slump, but then the collaboration worked out no longer: „I believed firmly that we could come together out of the crisis and many people think, I should have separate earlier from Palmier. I don’t think so and believe to have met the decision in the correct moment.”
While as Norbert Palmier tried to change her game a bit, the new coach Simon Walsh would not like to shift the game, but rather file at its qualities. Walsh should arrange it now and lead Schaul back to where she had been already once. „Palmier wanted to diminish my mistake quota and wanted to give my game more security.
Thus my game became more defensive and I acted no longer with pressure. Walsh would like to retain to my natural type of play. I should continue acting aggressively and try furthermore to dominate the game.“
Claudine Schaul has already worked on her serve, that is often criticized,: „I have practiced serve games an hour per day a week. I have to work regularly on that now, so that my service isn’t only the start of a rally, but rather a weapon, with which I can get the control over the game, to point subsequently.“
Schaul obligated with Walsh a coach whom she knew for some time before. At the US Open as well as the tournament in New Haven in the year 2003 the Australian had looked after the Luxembourger already. „At that time I have worked only three weeks with Simon and nevertheless he was able to give me some good advices. We have the same ideas and are lying on a wave length. I had a good feeling and knew that the collaboration actually would have to work out. It was simpler to obligate a trainer, who I know than living in uncertainty.“ The former number 41 of the world denies the rumors, that she wanted to retire, vehemently: „if it does not run so well, during a period one thinks certainly over many scenarios. I however never thought of retiring, because I spent my entire life with tennis and it made me pleasure.“
Claudine Schaul found courage by thinking at the past, in which she proved, that she knew how to play great tennis.
As many athletes in difficult phases also Schaul sought advice at a psychologist,
who mentally should help her: „You must be convinced that someone can help you. This person gives you only the means, the impulse has to come from yourself.“
Only mental training isn’t helping : „There are phases in which one needs different methods. Now a training phase is forthcoming. The next five weeks will be decisive for the upcoming season, because during the season, one has not much time to shift around something at its game“, so the ambitious athlete of the year 2003. If she would have prepared herself for the upcoming season rather in Luxembourg, Claudine Schaul sees many advantages to travel prematurely to Australia: „We have optimal prerequisites there. A condition trainer is on the spot, we do not need to set ourselves shortly before the tournaments to the climate and the time difference and this saves me the transposition between open air and indoor courts , what caused me previously always problems.. I would like to train where the best conditions are ruling
for my tennis and my season.“ It is the first time that Claudine Schaul ventures this step and the Luxembourgian tries everything to improve her shape.. After the training units, follow three tournaments in Australia (Gold Coast, Canberra as well as the Australian Open). After that Paris and Antwerp should follow, depending how the WTA ranking looks like. „One has to look then whether it is better to start in main draws of little tournament or in the qualification of big tournaments. That has to be decided first to the respective moment.
Overall the level in the women tennis field has improved , explains Claudine Schaul: „There are the top 15, that drop itself more or fewer ahead. Behind there are many players who stand on one level are following. This is especially noticeable in the challenger-tournaments where each game represents a high hurdle. Moreover there are many younger players who have established in the field.“
As by January 2006 there are no more quality points in WTA-tournaments. Previously the players, who won against an opponent who was better placed in the world rankings, were rewarded, with such bonus points.
To enter top 100 again, is a first goal for the coming season. After that Claudine Schaul, who is actually on position169, would like to get back to her high ranking (Top 50),: „this time I would like to remain also over a longer period on a front position“, noticed the ambitious Luxemburger.
PS: Her former coach Norbert Palmier is now coaching Luxembourg's number 1 in men tennis Gilles Muller (the guy who destroyed Andy Roddick at US Open in first round ). Her new coach Simon Walsh is coaching the Slovak Jarmila Gajdosova too.