Schultz-McCarthy Regains Serve Speed Record
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, who has been making significant progress in recent months in her 2006 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour comeback, achieved one of the goals of her return over the weekend in Cincinnati, to reclaim the record for fastest serve in women's tennis history. The 35-year-old Dutchwoman clocked a serve at 130mph in her qualifying match against Julia Cohen, and although she wasn't able to make it past the American, she was ecstatic with the serve speed accomplishment.
"A lot of people were asking me how fast I could serve now that I'm 35 years old," Schultz-McCarthy said. "This is great, it's very exciting. It was difficult to hear people say I used to have the fastest serve, or that I'm the second-fastest ever; this is definitely something I wanted to do in my comeback."
Every year from 1990 to 1997, Schultz-McCarthy was the fastest server on the Tour, her highest clocking coming at Wimbledon in 1997 with a 123mph delivery. In the quarterfinals of Zürich in the autumn of 1998, however, Venus Williams fired a 127mph ace on match point versus Mary Pierce, and held on to the record until now, surrendering it to the woman she claimed it from in the first place.
"I never really appreciated it when I had it the first time. Back then it wasn't so fashionable to have a big serve; it was more important for it to be consistent. All of a sudden, when Venus broke the record, it was a big deal. I wasn't sure if I would be able to serve like I did again but I changed my motion, using more legs to avoid re-injuring my back. I give a lot of credit to my coach, Juan Nuñez; he helped so much in my comeback when a lot of people said I was crazy."
Although Schultz-McCarthy didn't end up winning the match with Cohen, she took a lot of positives home from the last fortnight, having also won five matches to reach the quarters at a $75,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Maryland the week before. And despite not being awarded a wild card at Wimbledon, she proved she could still hang with the Tour's best players at 's-Hertogenbosch the week before, reaching the quarterfinals with wins over Laura Granville and Marta Domachowska.
"Every tournament, my serve and my game are getting better and better," said the Dutchwoman, who originally planned to play through the end of the year but is now looking towards a full schedule in 2007. "This year I asked for a wild card at Wimbledon but they didn't give it to me; so I said don't worry, I'll be back next year. I also want to play Roland Garros and the US Open next year. My ranking has been going up nicely but I still need to get it higher."
Of course, the reward came with a lot of hard work, and Schultz-McCarthy freely admits that her big serve is not all due to her 6' 2" frame or her athletic talent.
"Certain things are talent; but a lot of it is hard work. I was born with a fast arm, but I've always practiced my toss for hours. At my camp, I teach my kids it's crucial to get the perfect toss, and hitting the ball at one o'clock. Juan and I also looked at the men's players like Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis, and noticed things I wasn't doing like they were."
Asked who she thinks has a chance to be the next fastest server in the women's game, Schultz-McCarthy points in a direction different to what most would expect.
"I like Alicia Molik's motion. I practiced with her a lot in 's-Hertogenbosch and her serve is so good. Venus has a great serve, and I like Sharapova's technique too, but Molik's is faster. I think she's the most likely to break my record."
does anyone know which tournement she'll play next?