Jan 28th, 2003, 09:03 PM
Tart with a Heart
Join Date: Sep 2001
Great Arantxa Sanchez Vicario article
Found this great article today (its from the 1995 US Open Programme), and thought I'd share it. It really captures Arantxa's personality, and makes 1994 (such an exciting year in tennis for me, because Arantxa won everything) seem like yesterday. Enjoy, Arantxa fans Please enjoy - my hands are killing me after typing it all!
Marisa Vicario never met a roller coaster that she didn't like. But the shake-and-rolling rattler at Tibidabo, that venerable amusement park perched on a crag overlooking Barcelona, has a special place in her Castilian heart.
Having rejoiced with husband Emilio Sanchez in the births of their two sons and a daughter, she was presently informed by her physician that no more children were possible. A disappointment, but young Marisa, Emilio and Javier, in that order, were healthy kids with athletic inclinations, and life went on.
But what, you ask, about the foremost achiever of the historic tennis brood, Sanchez- spunky Arantxa, the reigning Reina of Flushing Meadows? Later.
Later...an unexpected blessing: the roller coaster kid arrived in 1972, four years younger than Javier. It happened that one day Mama Marisa, whose deeply concerend countenance you've noticed on many a television screen, spiritually chaperoning her last-born at play, had taken the three children to Tibidabo in their home town for an amusing afternoon. Included was roller coaster ride time. Not long after, startlingly, Marisa was pregnant - and, some 17 years after, that piston-legged blessed event was beating steffi Graf at Roland Garros to become the youngest French open champion.
Although Arantxa would lose her Paris record for precocity 12 months later to a 16-year-old Monica Seles, she had established herself in the hearts of her countryfolk as the only Spanish woman to win a major title. The sublime Lili de Alvarez had flirted with such an honour way back, as Wimbledon finalist in 1926-27-28.
By seizing her second Roland Garros title last year, Arantxa shared a Catalan double feature with Sergi Bruguera. They became king and queen of France while King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain proudly applauded their regal commoners.
That common ground was, of course, European ruby red terra firma. Arantxa, however, realized theres more to tennis than dirtkicking if you're intent on becoming the very best. Unless you can master the mean green slabs of this metrolpolitan Meadow, or the meadow-like sod of Wimbledon, you're compartmentalized as strictly a clay court maven. Such as Bruguera, thus far.
"I think I can win on anything, " says the U.S. champ of 1994, whose straight name is Aranzazu Isabel Maria Sanchez Vicario. "I proved it at Flushing Meadow last year. That was a big change, big progress for me. I've shown I can play on the hard court."
The proof was sweet: a rebounding 1-6 7-6(3) 6-4 triumph over the three-time champ Steffi Graf during which Sanchez Vicario flitted, buzzed and stung so electrifyingly that you knew you were in the presence of the Barcelona Bumblebee.
"What is a bumblebee?" a Spanish journalist asked me of Arantxa's nom de play. "We dont have such an animal."
"But you do - one...the unique Arantxa."
To let her countryfolk know, she frequently wears a hunk of jewelry, a life-size bumblebee pin than an admirer gave her.
Keeping up with her names is no easier than keeping pace on court. Arantxa is not Arancia (orange) as Italian journalists insist on spelling it, possibly classifying her as peppy as mega-doses of vitamin C. Rather, Arantxa is a homemade nickname for the obscure Aranzazu, a Basque saint. Mama Marisa had a friend who regarded that saint very highly, and asked her to give the name to any future daughter that she might have. It seemed a futile request - until that cocktail shaker of a roller coaster trip.
After winning her first French as Arantxa Sanchez, she told the press that she was appending Vicario "because I want to honour my mother when I am written about and talked about. No hyphen." Whatever a champion wants, correct? We became accustomed to Muhammad Ali replacing Cassius Marcellus Clay, didnt we?
This champion, Arantxa, may have arrived rather later, but she was a quick study and starter, female number 1 in Spain aged 13 when she became a professional. Although much adverse - and justified - criticism has been aimed at this sport which permits such egrarious child labour, Sanchez Vicario, and another who joined the female workforce at 13, Steffi graf, appear to have come through all right. "Yes, I sacrificed some of my childhood, lost a part of my youth I will never get back," Arantxa acknowledges. "But its what i wanted. Not everybody has the will to do it."
Nobody would ever question the Bumblebee's high-tech-strength will. But she was also lucky in her parentage and guidance. Her father has a job, as an engineer. She isnt expected to support the family, a burden that has meant pressure overload for so many prodigies. Her mother, as companion - "my best friend, " says ASV - provides the balance of home on the road. Coach Gabriel Urpi is influential in sensible scheduling that allows Arantxa healthy stretches of time off to recover from the rigors of the tour.
Were the Sanchezes parents who dragged their kids to the club and tied them, for inspiration, to the net post while Mom and Pop played? No, that was Ivan lendl's mom. But there was a club with a swimming pool and courts, and the folks thought it would be a nice place for summertime fun. Eldest, Marisa, showed quite an aptitude for tennis, and would gravitate to Pepperdine University's team as Santa Monica, California, on scholarship, the family's only varsity letter winner. Graduation to professional tennis didnt appeal to her.
Then Emilio, now 30, was heard from. Big. Rising as high as No.7 on the planet in 1990, he was a Spanish davis Cup mainstay, Italian open champ in 1991, Olympic silver medallist in doubles in 1988, alongside Sergio Casal, with whom he won the U.S. Open here two weeks before and a career total of 43 titles. A universal title that even a sports hater would admire was Emilio's positioning among People magazines's "Fifty Most Beautiful people in the World" for 1992.
Though Javier, 27, may have been overshadowed, in the public eye, by Emilio and Arantxa, the fact is he travels among the elite, consistently ranking in the 30s, wins tournaments, and has contributed a healthy share to his family career prize money earnings of $15,399,049 as 1995 began. Arantxa has accounted for more than half: $8million-and-change.
"We love Arantxa so much and are pleased she's done so well - the star of the family," says Emilio.
She responds, "They always played with me, the little one, and helped me. They come to watch when they can, and it helps when I see them in the box with my parents.
"Maybe the most embarrassing time in tennis for me and Emilio came at the Spanish Championships - the one for just Spanish players - in 1985. I was only 13, but playing for the womens championship against a woman named Ninoska Souto. I never left the baseline then, but very steady. We played for over an hour and still its the first set. Very boring. The tournament organisers and the crowd got impatient. They wanted to start the mens final on the main court, with Emilio. Finally they moved us to another court so Emilio could play. He didnt want to kick me off, but they did it. He felt awful. I told him it's OK. He played bad until he heard I won. Then he won."
They're all still winning. Nothing quite like the Spanish Family Sanchez has graced tennis so prominently. Arantxa, always the liveliest, the most outgoing, has taken over as the front-runner, winning more, covering more ground, and adherent of the Ernie Banks philosophy - its a nice day; lets play two. Whats a Martini without the olive? Arantxa would say, whats singles without the doubles? She wants to play both (plus the mixed, if available).
In 1994, Sanchez Vicario engaged in 83 singles (74-9) and 78 doubles (71-7), making an overall win-loss record of 145-16 for 161 matches, plus eight titles in singles, 11 in doubles. Thats the most anybody has laboured since Martina Navratilova went 158-7 in 1982. It shouldnt be forgotten that when money and attention were scarce, Billie Jean King set the monumental record for toil in 1971 as she won 192 of 210 matches, 17 singles and 21 doubles titles.
"I love to play, as much as I can," Arantxa says. "I want to be No.1 (which she has been now and again this year in a tussle with Graf) but most of all I want to play. Tennis makes me very excited." Her brown eyes leap.
In her early days of mastering English, a requisite for a tennis player good enough to be dealing with the press, she would confess "I am very exciting," when she meant "excited". But it was fun to hear, and it was prophetic. Arantxa is exciting. So, we assume, was thehistoric roller coaster ride that heralded her arrival.
Bud Collins, author, television commentator, Boston Globe columnist, and a regular contributor to Tennis Championships magazine, is America's most widely-travelled and best-known tennis journalist. He is the author of Bud Collins' Modern Encyclopaedia of Tennis and was inducted into the International tennis Hall of Fame in 1994.
__________________~ gonna teach you tricks that'll blow your mongrel mind ~
Last edited by JonBcn : Jan 28th, 2003 at 09:55 PM.
Feb 17th, 2014, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Re: Great Arantxa Sanchez Vicario article
Picking up from 1994, this one helps explain how media commitments could wear a player out.
No. 1 in the Whirl : No One in Women's Tennis Works Harder Than Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Who Gets the Top Ranking Back Just in Time for the Evert Cup
February 26, 1995
LOS ANGELES TIMES
The limousine driver squints again at the faxed itinerary, lingering on the section that indicates he is running late, and, not for the last time on this day, his black brogans stomp on the accelerator.
Passengers exchange whiplashed glances as the driver locks on his next television studio target. Hand grips are lunged for. The white missile fishtails around a corner onto Sunset Boulevard.
Alone among the group, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is delighted. She looks as if she's about to ask the frantic driver to take the turn again, only faster.
It's not yet 8 in the morning on Friday, she'd flown across country the night before and had scant sleep and already Sanchez Vicario is hurtling full tilt into the day. It is a good day. She likes it. Why not? On Monday, the 23-year-old will become the No. 1 ranked women's tennis player in the world for the second time this year and she's in a rush to enjoy it.
The Green Room at Channel 11 is not green. It's a cave-like waiting room where guests for various shows are stashed. On the set of "Good Day L.A." they are waiting for Sanchez Vicario, who is getting her makeup done. Sanchez Vicario is laughing and asking if anyone thinks she looks like pop singer Gloria Estefan as someone told her once. Something about the long curly dark hair.
The show's hostess is concerned about getting the name right, she says, because she knows what it's like to have your name mispronounced. Anything is fine, says Sanchez Vicario, who knows what it's like to explain that in Spain it is common to add your mother's surname to your father's.
The interview begins with a remark about what a great year Sanchez Vicario had and when was the last time she played Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. "Good luck," says the hostess.
Sanchez Vicario had a career year in 1994. She won the French Open and the U.S. Open and made it to the final of the Australian Open. She won eight tournaments, more than any other player. Her match record was 74-9 and she set a record for single-season prize money, raking in $2.9 million.
As if to spite her, Steffi Graf clung to the No. 1 ranking. Which makes this week so special. In Graf's injured absence, Sanchez Vicario became No. 1 for two weeks after this year's Australian Open. Graf returned from an injury and regained the No. 1 ranking last weekend, but will lose it back to Sanchez Vicario under the tour's complicated points system.
For the first time, Sanchez Vicario will play in the State Farm Evert Cup, which begins Monday at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort at Indian Wells. Fans there will see the remarkable energy Sanchez Vicario brings to tennis, which earned her the nickname Barcelona Bumblebee from commentator Bud Collins.
What's more, Sanchez Vicario always tries her hardest, unusual in a game in which giving up in matches when you're hopelessly behind is considered a keen strategic move.
"I have always tried my best, since I was a child," Sanchez Vicario said, after piling in the limo for the wild ride to the next interview. "Giving a full effort is very important. I think the people can see if you are trying hard and they like it. I am competitive, yes, but I am also a professional. This is important. Of course I try to win every match. But if I try my best and I lose, that is OK too. Really."
No one seems too convinced of this last bit; she tried hard when she said it.
The Green Room at ESPN2 is not green. But bagels are available. It's refreshing to see that Sanchez Vicario is not a tennis player with a my-body-is-a-temple attitude. In her young hipster clothes and brown suede boots with platform heels, she doesn't remotely resemble a professional athlete.
But while her physique might lack chiseling, Sanchez Vicario is the possessor of a more valuable athletic gift: an imperviousness to her profession's debilitating wear and tear. On a tour that sometimes seems populated with blown-out knees and protruding disks, Sanchez Vicario has an admirable sturdiness.
In almost 10 years of the professional tennis tour's grind, Sanchez Vicario has not succumbed to so much as a carbuncle. Working theory: Injuries are looking for her, but she's moving too fast to be caught.
How to explain Sanchez Vicario's rampant vitality? Two years ago, she set a women's record for most matches played in a season, 167. Consider that Graf played 64 matches last season. Low-ranked players, fighting to earn enough money to stay viable, might enter a tournament every other week. They play a lot. But no one in the top 10 plays more than Sanchez Vicario.
And she has cut back. Until recently, Sanchez Vicario's habit was to enter the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the four Grand Slam tournaments. Now she has knocked off the mixed doubles and plays doubles at only 13 or 14 tournaments a year.
Of the eight tournaments Sanchez Vicario won last season, she also won the doubles in seven. Long before she was ranked No. 1 in singles, she was ranked No. 1 as a doubles player.
She has the usual things to say, that playing doubles helps her singles game. But the suspicion is that she'd be pacing trenches in her hotel carpet if she didn't have something to do at a tournament.
Oh yes, she also played on the Spanish Olympic team in 1988 and 1992 and plays on the defending champion Spanish Federation Cup team.
Gabriel Urpi, the low-key former professional player from Spain, coaches Sanchez Vicario and sighs when asked about her durability.
"I have played on the tour and coached many people, but her energy. . . . I have never seen it," he said, shaking his head.
Indefatigability has long been Sanchez Vicario's trademark, along with speed. Yet, rather than being applied as a compliment, this has managed to work to diminish Sanchez Vicario's accomplishments, as in, "All she does is race around the court and get the ball back."
Unnoticed is the fact that often Sanchez Vicario's returns have wicked pace and pinpoint placement.
"She's very fast, yes, and probably there is something that is natural, but there is also a lot of hard work," Urpi said. "People see that she is fast, but that is just one part of her game. She is fast and she runs a lot, but to win, you must have many abilities. People never talk about that."
Sanchez Vicario, when she talks about this, allows a rare moment of unhappiness to linger.
"I would like people to see me as a complete player," she said. "I have shots, I go to the net, I can serve. No one sees this. I am sad and wonder why the only thing people say is that I am fast."
Perhaps the image is reinforced becauseshespeakssofast.
The Green Room at Prime Network is not green. And the sofa is occupied by a video camera. But it's not as if Sanchez Vicario will be sitting.
Here she will have a chance to speak Spanish on La Cadena Deportivo. She speaks English, one of the five languages she has mastered, very fast and speaks even faster in Spanish. Los Angeles, she says, makes her feel at home because there are so many Spanish-speaking people.
Unlike many players, Sanchez Vicario does not attempt to duck such interminable "media days" as this one. She enjoys talking and has a casual confidentiality that puts people at ease.
Still, Sanchez Vicario could become the least known No. 1 ever. Her life is one of tennis' most unexamined, possibly overlooked because it contains so little controversy or darkness.
"I like for people to get to know me as a person, not just a player," she said. "My character is open, I think people can see that. Americans seem to like that. I like for people to know me off the court, as a person with interests, who goes to museums and the theater and listens to music."
Tires screech as the limo careens down a new street. Sanchez Vicario is smiling out the window, talking and thinking. She's moving at top speed.
Feb 17th, 2014, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Re: Great Arantxa Sanchez Vicario article
Sanchez Vicario Embraces Number One Status
Wednesday, March 1, 1995
RICK KAPLAN, Gannett News Service
To the untrained eye, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario really didn't look any different than usual.
Her hair was tied back with a headband. The ball-holder was clipped around her waist.
In her first match as the world's top-ranked female tennis player, only her fellow pros sensed a change.
"The players have much more respect for you, and that makes a difference," Sanchez said after whipping Yayuk Basuki 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday in the second-round of the Evert Cup. "They look at you differently because they know you are No. 1.
"But I'm not going to change and become cocky. I'm the same person. I keep talking to everyone. That's the way I am, and that's not going to change because I am No. 1.
"But, definitely, it's something different."
Sanchez, who received a bye in the first round, became No. 1 on Feb. 6. A week later, she became the first player in eight years to hold the top spot in the singles and doubles rankings.
Steffi Graf regained the No. 1 singles ranking last week, but Sanchez moved in front again on Monday.
"The players who hadn't seen me for a long time said `congratulations,' " Sanchez said. "They said, `It's unbelievable to be No. 1 in singles and doubles in the same week.'
"Many players have been asking me how it feels to be No. 1. I say it's great."
Sanchez played like a No. 1 player Wednesday, taking just 65 minutes to defeat the 27th-ranked Basuki at Hyatt Grand Champions.
Second-seeded Conchita Martinez advanced in 71 minutes with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Katerina Maleeva in another second-round match. Fourth-seeded Natasha Zvereva edged Lisa Raymond 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). Amanda Coetzer, an Evert Cup finalist the last two years, lost 6-4, 6-4 to Chanda Rubin.
The winners advanced to Friday's quarterfinals.
Sanchez's match Wednesday was her first since losing the Australian Open final to Mary Pierce. She had lots of time to recover from the bash she threw upon reaching No. 1.
"I celebrated with my family first," said Sanchez, who received a necklace with a "1" charm from her parents. "Then I went with my friends and we had a big party. It was a very special day. I will never forget the 6th of February."
Back on the court, Sanchez is prepared for a year-long battle with Graf.
"Normally, a player gets (to No. 1) and dominates for a while, like Martina (Navratilova) or Steffi did. Right now, it's different, and that makes it more interesting," Sanchez said. "The more players and the more competition and rivalry, the better it is for the game. It's getting exciting.
"The one who plays the best is the one who will keep the spot the longest. Right now, there is pressure on me to play my best to stay there."
Martinez, ranked No. 4 in the world, is glad to see some competition at the top.
"Steffi can come back and play well again, so you might have Arantxa (No. 1) one week, then Steffi the next," Martinez said. "I think it's good for the fans. When you know that one player is always going to win, it loses something.
"There also are some other players who have chances to beat Arantxa and Steffi."
The next player with a shot to knock off Sanchez is Rubin. Martinez's quarterfinal opponent will be the winner of Thursday's match between Mary Joe Fernandez and Patty Fendick.
Third-seeded Lindsay Davenport plays her first match of the tournament Thursday, facing Angelica Galvaldon.
Feb 17th, 2014, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Re: Great Arantxa Sanchez Vicario article
I am given to understand the family isn't that close anymore, making this one poignant.
Arantxa loves it at the top
Thursday, March 2, 1995
Jim Short, The Press-Enterprise
INDIAN WELLS - Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is learning what it means to be No. 1.
"It feels great," she said yesterday after her first match as the world's top-ranked women tennis player, a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Yayuk Basuki in the second round of the Evert Cup.
"Players congratulate me. They look at you different because they know that you will be No. 1. Many of the players are asking me how it feels to be No. 1.
"I'm the same person. I'll keep talking with everybody. That's the way I am, and I'm not going to change because I become No. 1.
"But definitely it's something different. Players have much more respect for you, and that's what makes the difference. I know that. But I'm not going to change and be cocky or something like that."
Sanchez Vicario, who reached No. 1 the week of Feb. 6, lost the ranking to Steffi Graf on Feb. 13 and regained it Monday, has been around tennis long enough to know that success quickly can vanish.
In fact, at the moment she can find an example of that in older brother Emilio, the eldest of the three touring pros from Barcelona.
A Champions Cup finalist in 1988 and a 15-time titlist on the ATP Tour, Sanchez had been ranked seventh in the world in 1990 and was No. 21 at the close of the '92 season. But he fell to No. 41 at the end of '93, to No. 76 last year and dropped out of the top 100 for awhile.
So this week, while Arantxa was basking in her No. 1 ranking and No. 1 seeding in the $430,000 Evert Cup, Emilio used his No. 77 ranking to get a wild-card entry into the $50,000 ATP Challengers, a series for those ranked No. 50 or higher with fields usually filled by young players who are not yet established.
Sanchez, 29, said he came here rather than play a tournament in Europe because it was an opportunity to get more matches.
But he and partner Arnaud Boetsch were beaten in the first round of doubles Monday, and on Tuesday Sanchez lost his first round singles match to Mikael Tillstrom of Sweden, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, while his sister and mother Marisa looked on.
That left Sanchez facing a quandary familiar to a lot of players who have seen their ranking tumble and their automatic acceptance into tournaments disappear. He has requested a wild card for the Champions Cup. But if he doesn't get one of the two wild cards remaining, he will have to play in this weekend's qualifying tournament.
That's like returning to kindergarten and starting over, and not at all what Arantxa, 23, is used to seeing.
"It's different," she said, "because when I see him, he was always in the top 10. He was there for at least nine years. He has been playing always so well, and now to have to play sometimes qualifies (qualifiers) or Challengers is completely different."
He has been always my model to watch. He also was a good friend. Definitely, he helped me a lot. He gave me good tips when I was young to be able to maintain (withstand) that pressure and keep improving."
Now, Arantxa would like to return the favor and give Emilio a shoulder to lean on. She said she gets extremely nervous whenever she watches Emilio or Javier, 27, play because she wants to jump onto the court and help.
She can't do that, however, just as she can do nothing to aid his comeback.
"I always can ask them (for advice)," Emilio said. "But something like this, they've never had before. It's personal, more than something you can advise.
"I am the oldest, so I am the one who arrives first with things, no? If it happens to them I hope I can advise them, don't make the same mistakes as I'm making."
The biggest mistake, Emilio said, was in refusing to accept that his status in the game had changed and that it would be necessary to start over.
Last year, while Arantxa was in the process of winning eight titles, including the French and U.S. opens and moving within striking distance of No. 1, Emilio struggled. And in the process he lost confidence and the motivation that had carried him through 11 years on the tour.
He said during the summer he finally reached a point where he knew he had to either quit or change his approach to the game, to have fun and realize how fortunate he was to be able to play at all.
His results improved after that. But when he began competing this year, after undergoing surgery in November for groin cysts, he was faced with that familiar conundrum. To regain his ranking he needed to play matches, but without the luxury of a high ranking matches are hard to get.
"I'm trying my best, so we'll have to see," he said. But he also takes solace in the fact "I'm playing, I've been doing my tennis for many years, and the important thing is that I enjoy what I'm doing.
"I'm happy. If I win more matches, much better. but if not, I don't (have to) show no one anything."
"You have to start again. You have to start slowly. I'm trying. . ."
His sister thinks he'll succeed, too.
"I think that if he can keep enjoying playing that's the most important thing," said Arantxa, who will meet Chanda Rubin in the quarterfinals tomorrow.
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