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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 10:52 AM   #1
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Elena on Mom: "sometimes we have a fight"




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Posted 3/16/2006 @ 10:34 PM

Elena Dementieva made the Pacific Life Open semis earlier today, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in her chances against the Little Backhand that Quit, Justine Henin-Hardenne (BTW: my sources tell me that Mauresmo is livid over the Australian affair and isn't even on speaking terms with Henin-Hardenne).

I probably shouldn’t even be writing about Demetieva, but I like her and what the ‘ell, it’s my blog, right?

If you saw Elena beat Ana Ivanovic in three today, you may have noticed something extraordinary. A few times on key points, Elena missed her first serve. Then, instead of going with that truly bizarre, sidearm, sidespin, what-on-earth? slice second serve we see so often, she tried to smoke it – hit it as hard - harder, it seemed - than her first serve. I got a kick out of her explanation for that:


”I don’t like it when people attack me from my second serve, so I’m just trying to hit the ball. . . I don’t want that people – my second serve, people can go for the winner and I just don’t want this.”


And when it was pointed out that her strategy almost ensured that she would lose the point, she blithely replied, “Yeah, I don’t care.”

So, how novel is that? It may seem like Dementieva is biting off her nose to spite her face, but this strategy borders on genius. If she serves up a beach ball and invites her opponent to tee off, one or more of four things are likely to happen - and all of them are bad for Dementieva:

1 – The crowd goes “Ooooooh” at the service return winner and makes Dementieva feel foolish

2 - Opponent looks great to crowd – and Dementieva.

3 – Opponent starts to confuse herself with (pre-Hollywood) Serena Williams.

4 – Opponent gets a good look at Dementieva’s biggest weakness.

However, if Dementieva tries to burn in a second second serve, one or more of four things is likely to happen, at least three of which are good for Dementieva:

1 – The crowd goes “Ooooooh” as she hits an ace and feels better about her serve.

2 – She hits a service winner to win the point.

3 – She hits a double fault.

4 - She puts the ball in play and takes control of the point.

Now, I’m not sure if this example of Cartesian brilliance can be attributed to Dementieva’s coach, mainly because Dementieva’s coach is also her roommate, best friend, Go Fish partner and sock washer, her mom Vera. And nobody I’ve talked to has waxed poetic on Vera’s coaching skills.

Dementieva came up through the same Russian club system that produced many of her gifted peers, including Anna Kournikova and Anastasia Myskina, and that she received a lot of help from the Russian federation. Early on as a pro, she was coached by everyone’s favorite Russian, pioneering OOlga Morozova. So how did mom, a teacher, become the mistress of the X's and O's?

I admit, I never asked. So I have no answer to that. But on mom's watch, things have gotten kind of whacky, First, you've got the problems Elena has with her serve (although I tend to think that by this point, it’s unfixable. More importantly, look at her resume. This is a girl who’s just 24, but has been in two Grand Slam finals (she failed to close the deal against beatable opponents in both)and two other semis. Plus, her ranking history has fluctuated pretty dramatically for a woman of her caliber.

Doesn’t that scream, Get a coach!?

Sigh. Dementieva is original – so much so that I think she borders on the eccentric. She’s a bit of a loose cannon in interviews and people invariably find her as unpredictable as she is refreshing. I have a sneaky feeling she also might be too cheap to spring for the 250K it probably would cost for salary and expenses for a solid, traveling coach. Sure, she’s making tons of dough, but you know how people can be. . .


Anyway, I wanted to pursue this theme of her relation with Vera, so Lisa Dillman of The Los Angeles Times and I double-teamed Elena on the subject with a bunch of questions. She said she loves having her mother around all the time, and when Lisa surmised that they must avoid the classic mother/daughter conflicts, she replied:


“. . .Sometimes we have a fight. Sometimes we can argue against each other, with each other, about the situation during the match or the match that I played badly. But it's okay. I mean, that's the process. It's not always she tells me, I'm doing it. It's all about talking and find the right decision.”


Elena made it sound like she spends so much time with Vera that I asked if she invites her mother out when she goes out to dinner with friends, or other players.A And if not, did she feel conflicted, or even guilty?
She didn’t quite understand the question, but answered:


People are usually very surprised when they see me without my mom. They're always, ‘Where is your mom? She's not with you? What's wrong?’ When I'm playing San Diego, she always stay home because she loves gardening so much, and that's a good time for her to stay home in the country village. Everyone, every single player comes to me, ‘Where is your mom? You broke up? You don't work together any more or what?

No, but yeah, I think like everyone, you know, sometimes we need a break, she needs some quiet time without me, without tennis, because it's very stressful for her to be with me and watch a match like this one by sitting one place, not being able to help me. Yeah, sometimes she needs a break.”


Note that she emphasizes that Vera is the one who needs the break. I guess she must get tired getting her butt whipped at Uno.

Still, somebody must have come up with the impeccable logic driving the serve strategy, and I doubt it was Morozova.

http://www.tennis.com/Tennis_World_B...p?ENTRY_ID=838
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 11:11 AM   #2
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Would the players ask Alicia Molik for when her mum never travels with her?
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 11:58 AM   #3
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What is Vera's background? Was she ever an athlete? Because I still have trouble with any parent coaching who was NOT a professional athlete (hopefully a tennis player).

I simply do not believe anyone who has not done it themselves can teach others to do it. And I think the record most of the time bears this out. I know, some will cite the Williams sisters, but I continue to maintain their major instruction came from Rick Macci and not Richard or Oracene Williams.

In the end, though, Elena's serving problems apparently stem from an old shoulder injury that prompted her to change her toss to avoid shoulder pain. And of course, now its all in her head.

But I'll tell you something else about her. Elena is a very stubborn girl in many ways and has her own ideas about things, so her mother might work out better than a normal coach.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 12:04 PM   #4
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interesting.. Elena fucking rocks!!
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 12:06 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for this

take care

mark

Quote:
Originally Posted by itzhak



Mistress of the X's and O's
Posted 3/16/2006 @ 10:34 PM

Elena Dementieva made the Pacific Life Open semis earlier today, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in her chances against the Little Backhand that Quit, Justine Henin-Hardenne (BTW: my sources tell me that Mauresmo is livid over the Australian affair and isn't even on speaking terms with Henin-Hardenne).

I probably shouldn’t even be writing about Demetieva, but I like her and what the ‘ell, it’s my blog, right?

If you saw Elena beat Ana Ivanovic in three today, you may have noticed something extraordinary. A few times on key points, Elena missed her first serve. Then, instead of going with that truly bizarre, sidearm, sidespin, what-on-earth? slice second serve we see so often, she tried to smoke it – hit it as hard - harder, it seemed - than her first serve. I got a kick out of her explanation for that:


”I don’t like it when people attack me from my second serve, so I’m just trying to hit the ball. . . I don’t want that people – my second serve, people can go for the winner and I just don’t want this.”


And when it was pointed out that her strategy almost ensured that she would lose the point, she blithely replied, “Yeah, I don’t care.”

So, how novel is that? It may seem like Dementieva is biting off her nose to spite her face, but this strategy borders on genius. If she serves up a beach ball and invites her opponent to tee off, one or more of four things are likely to happen - and all of them are bad for Dementieva:

1 – The crowd goes “Ooooooh” at the service return winner and makes Dementieva feel foolish

2 - Opponent looks great to crowd – and Dementieva.

3 – Opponent starts to confuse herself with (pre-Hollywood) Serena Williams.

4 – Opponent gets a good look at Dementieva’s biggest weakness.

However, if Dementieva tries to burn in a second second serve, one or more of four things is likely to happen, at least three of which are good for Dementieva:

1 – The crowd goes “Ooooooh” as she hits an ace and feels better about her serve.

2 – She hits a service winner to win the point.

3 – She hits a double fault.

4 - She puts the ball in play and takes control of the point.

Now, I’m not sure if this example of Cartesian brilliance can be attributed to Dementieva’s coach, mainly because Dementieva’s coach is also her roommate, best friend, Go Fish partner and sock washer, her mom Vera. And nobody I’ve talked to has waxed poetic on Vera’s coaching skills.

Dementieva came up through the same Russian club system that produced many of her gifted peers, including Anna Kournikova and Anastasia Myskina, and that she received a lot of help from the Russian federation. Early on as a pro, she was coached by everyone’s favorite Russian, pioneering OOlga Morozova. So how did mom, a teacher, become the mistress of the X's and O's?

I admit, I never asked. So I have no answer to that. But on mom's watch, things have gotten kind of whacky, First, you've got the problems Elena has with her serve (although I tend to think that by this point, it’s unfixable. More importantly, look at her resume. This is a girl who’s just 24, but has been in two Grand Slam finals (she failed to close the deal against beatable opponents in both)and two other semis. Plus, her ranking history has fluctuated pretty dramatically for a woman of her caliber.

Doesn’t that scream, Get a coach!?

Sigh. Dementieva is original – so much so that I think she borders on the eccentric. She’s a bit of a loose cannon in interviews and people invariably find her as unpredictable as she is refreshing. I have a sneaky feeling she also might be too cheap to spring for the 250K it probably would cost for salary and expenses for a solid, traveling coach. Sure, she’s making tons of dough, but you know how people can be. . .


Anyway, I wanted to pursue this theme of her relation with Vera, so Lisa Dillman of The Los Angeles Times and I double-teamed Elena on the subject with a bunch of questions. She said she loves having her mother around all the time, and when Lisa surmised that they must avoid the classic mother/daughter conflicts, she replied:


“. . .Sometimes we have a fight. Sometimes we can argue against each other, with each other, about the situation during the match or the match that I played badly. But it's okay. I mean, that's the process. It's not always she tells me, I'm doing it. It's all about talking and find the right decision.”


Elena made it sound like she spends so much time with Vera that I asked if she invites her mother out when she goes out to dinner with friends, or other players.A And if not, did she feel conflicted, or even guilty?
She didn’t quite understand the question, but answered:


People are usually very surprised when they see me without my mom. They're always, ‘Where is your mom? She's not with you? What's wrong?’ When I'm playing San Diego, she always stay home because she loves gardening so much, and that's a good time for her to stay home in the country village. Everyone, every single player comes to me, ‘Where is your mom? You broke up? You don't work together any more or what?

No, but yeah, I think like everyone, you know, sometimes we need a break, she needs some quiet time without me, without tennis, because it's very stressful for her to be with me and watch a match like this one by sitting one place, not being able to help me. Yeah, sometimes she needs a break.”


Note that she emphasizes that Vera is the one who needs the break. I guess she must get tired getting her butt whipped at Uno.

Still, somebody must have come up with the impeccable logic driving the serve strategy, and I doubt it was Morozova.

http://www.tennis.com/Tennis_World_B...p?ENTRY_ID=838
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyP
What is Vera's background? Was she ever an athlete? Because I still have trouble with any parent coaching who was NOT a professional athlete (hopefully a tennis player).

I simply do not believe anyone who has not done it themselves can teach others to do it. And I think the record most of the time bears this out. I know, some will cite the Williams sisters, but I continue to maintain their major instruction came from Rick Macci and not Richard or Oracene Williams.

In the end, though, Elena's serving problems apparently stem from an old shoulder injury that prompted her to change her toss to avoid shoulder pain. And of course, now its all in her head.

But I'll tell you something else about her. Elena is a very stubborn girl in many ways and has her own ideas about things, so her mother might work out better than a normal coach.
No Vera is a doctor and a club player. I don't know her level, but every time I hear her talking to Lena during a practice (like few days ago at IW), I'm LMFAO. I mean, the advice that Lena gets from Vera should come free...

PS. I'm Vera's hater, but Lena's lover. I think it's up to Vera to end this comedy, so the faster she understands it - the better
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #7
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Elena's stubborn, gonna-do-it-my-way style is part of why I love her so much. This article captures a lot of that essence of Elena.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:26 PM   #8
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Cool article. Must say, at Wimbledon I ALWAYS see Elena wandering around, even in the shop, and she's always with Vera too
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:27 PM   #9
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elena!!! you are the best
good luck for your nexts match against Justine
it is time to beat her again
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyP
What is Vera's background? Was she ever an athlete? Because I still have trouble with any parent coaching who was NOT a professional athlete (hopefully a tennis player).

I simply do not believe anyone who has not done it themselves can teach others to do it. And I think the record most of the time bears this out. I know, some will cite the Williams sisters, but I continue to maintain their major instruction came from Rick Macci and not Richard or Oracene Williams.

In the end, though, Elena's serving problems apparently stem from an old shoulder injury that prompted her to change her toss to avoid shoulder pain. And of course, now its all in her head.

But I'll tell you something else about her. Elena is a very stubborn girl in many ways and has her own ideas about things, so her mother might work out better than a normal coach.
Karolji Seles would probably be the best example. From what I remember, he did have some sort of sporting background, but he was in his 40s by the time Monica was born, had never picked up a racket, and his principal occupation was as a freelance cartoonist. Had he been a coach, Seles would never had played double-fisted from both sides -- that's for sure.

And I'm not sure, but I don't recall Peter Graf having a tennis background? You could also talk about Jim Pierce, Tracy Austin's father (although I may be wrong)...and even Stefano Capriati. I know Jennifer had input from other people, but Stefano was her main coach to the end of her career.

P.S Elena is hilarious. Her mum looks like a cute little rabbit, too.
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