YOUNG FLORENTINE BRINGS SPIRIT and GRACE to FLORENCE OPEN
It may come as a surprise to some, but a native Florentine won her second round singles match this afternoon at the McLeod for Health Florence Open. Gaia Sanesi from Florence, Italy, defeated Belorussian Ilona Kremen to move on to the third round of the tournament. Gaia, who speaks English and Spanish as well as Italian, was born and raised in Firenza (Florence), Italy, but trained at the Nick Bollitierri Academy in Florida for four years, lived in the United States for a total of seven years, and now trains in Barcelona Spain. At age 22, she has been on the pro tour for four years and won two ITF singles titles and one doubles title.
Gaia considers herself a Florentine and plans to return to Italy permanently when her playing career is done. When asked to compare her Florence with ours, she noted that hers was geographically smaller with everything in the city center in walking distance, while ours is spread out. Very diplomatically, she added that she is impressed by the open fields filled with crops that surround our city. She also made a point of praising the Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center where the Open is being played, saying that it is “one of the best she has seen.” Every morning, she added, her coach tells her what a great venue we have. The Courts in her Florence, according to Gaia, are “very good, but nothing like this.” That is strong praise from a player who spends 30 weeks a year on the road moving from city to city.
Gaia, currently ranked No. 365 in the world in singles with a career high singles rating of 294 is currently enjoying her most successful year on the pro tour. She says that she hopes to play as long as she feels good and is doing well. After that, she may become a teaching pro in Italy, where she is currently ranked No. 13 and well known, or she may decide to continue her education. If she chooses that route, she will probably shoot for a degree in business. One of her long term entrepreneurial dreams is owning and managing an ice cream and cake business of some sort. One of her best friends is an excellent pastry chef and Gaia says “I’m Italian. I love ice cream.”
According to Gaia, the life of a professional tennis player is a mixture of adventure and routine. Every day there is the same regimen of controlled meals, long practices, workouts, and an early curfew. On the other hand, tennis players have a great opportunity to see the world, learn new languages, and meet new people. The problem, she says, is that players can get caught up in the tennis routine and “forget that they are young girls . . . they can forget to be normal people”.
Gaia is, however, both a fine tennis player and a charming young lady, and it is obvious that she will be a success in whatever she undertakes. Good luck to her now and in the future, in this Florence and in the other.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams