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Old May 31st, 2003, 02:53 AM   #1
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Dally Randriantefy...Inspiring Article

No dilly in this Dally written by our fave writer..John Wertheim

PARIS -- Justine Henin-Hardenne didn't dally in her third-round French Open match Friday, blitzing Dally Randriantefy, 6-1, 6-1, in roughly the amount of time it takes to say "Randriantefy." Fifteen minutes after the match, Randriantefy was still shaking her head, smiling at how badly she was outclassed. "I need to work on a lot of things -- actually, everything," she said. "But even then I don't know if I'll ever get to that level."

Still, it was hard for Randriantefy to be too upset about her tournament. She reached the third round, equaling her best showing at a Grand Slam event; she beat Alexandra Stevenson -- granted, no one's clay-court expert, but a seed nonetheless; she'll improve on her ranking, which was No. 83 entering the French Open; and most important, by far, she banked roughly $35,000. While the majority of players would be happy with that kind of payday for a week's worth, it's particularly meaningful to Randriantefy. A native of Madagascar, Randriantefy estimates that the average salary for a worker in her country is $60 a month. Her mother, Olga, a professor of French literature, makes roughly $100 a month, and her father, Max, a sports educator, earns about the same.

In other words, Randriantefy made more this week for three matches of tennis than her parents are likely to take home in 25 years of teaching. "I do think about this," she said, smiling. "It's strange to me, but it makes me happy I chose tennis."

The same voodoo economics, however, almost derailed her career. As a promising junior, she was able to compete internationally mostly by dint of corporate sponsorships arranged for her in Madagascar. Her first WTA ranking came in 1993 at age 16, and by 1996 she was a top-100 player, the first non-white African player ever to achieve that distinction. Her game, however, went into a tailspin the following year, and as the losses mounted, the money began to run dry.

Randriantefy was stuck; she couldn't exactly hit Dad up for a $10,000 travel loan. This, of course, is a problem that often affects players from economically disadvantaged countries. Paradorn Srichaphan has questioned how many more Thai players would be on the circuit if the economic playing field was more level. As it stands, the cost of a few plane tickets to international junior events can represent a huge chunk of a family's annual income.

Financially strapped, Randriantefy left the tour in 1998, trying to regroup and recoup by playing what she calls "exhibitions and money tournaments" (translation: She spent a lot of time in France playing small ITF events where she could lodge for free and incur minimal travel costs). She also competed for a local Parisian professional team that paid her a salary and covered her training.

As her bank book became a bit more bloated, Randriantefy returned to the WTA Tour, and her ranking has improved each of the past four years. "Now I'm at the point where I can play in all four Grand Slams," said Randriantefy, who will be ranked around No. 70 when the new rankings are released. "That's pretty much enough money to get me through the year."

While she won't overpower anyone, Randriantefy hits solidly off both sides, returns well and plays with the same joie de vivre that informs her personality on the court. She's 26, and there's no reason why she can't be a top-50 to top-80 player for several more years.

When she's done with tennis, Randriantefy intends to return to her home country and, with any luck, inspire other talented juniors. She's quick to note that her younger siblings, Natasha and Tatum, both have potential. "The Williams sisters are good for tennis all over the world, but for Africa especially," she says. "And maybe I also have shown the way."
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Old May 31st, 2003, 03:30 AM   #2
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She is amazing! Go tennis Africa. The sport is getting bigger on the continent!
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Old May 31st, 2003, 03:37 AM   #3
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nice article. Go Dally!!
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Old May 31st, 2003, 03:39 AM   #4
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go dally
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Old May 31st, 2003, 06:20 AM   #5
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Thanks for the article; good luck to Dally in the future !
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Old May 31st, 2003, 06:33 AM   #6
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Very nice article on Dally. It's too bad that we don't see more articles about the lower ranked players. There are so many interesting/inspiring stories that we never hear.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 10:32 AM   #7
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I wonder if the WTA could provide "seed" money to poorer nations to get some more women from these nations on tour. 1 million dollars could fund 100 diferent women to the tune of $10,000 extra dollars a year. If each third world nation could fund it's top prospect tennis could be spread wider.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 10:58 AM   #8
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Glad for her
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Old May 31st, 2003, 12:28 PM   #9
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Thanks for the article!!!

GO DALLY!!!
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Old May 31st, 2003, 12:29 PM   #10
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So nice to see how much it means to her!
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Old May 31st, 2003, 12:51 PM   #11
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A far cry from the multimillionairesses in the top 10... puts the bitching over them into perspective. Go Dally
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Old May 31st, 2003, 01:13 PM   #12
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Wow...I had heard of her financial struggles before, but didn't know that much about them.

I hope Dally is able to fund her younger sisters a bit as well, and also Aina Rafolomonotsiatsokika, another Madagascarian tennis player who is ranked.

GO MADAGASCAR TENNIS
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Old May 31st, 2003, 01:32 PM   #13
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I wonder how her sisters fund themselves to play tennis. Natacha plays on the ITF circuit exclusively and she's ranked in the 300-400's. When Dally had to give up tennis for that year, she was ranked in the 400's or something. Does Dally share the wealth? How does Natacha manage to pay and play?
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Old May 31st, 2003, 02:43 PM   #14
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A great article, and by far one of the best pieces Wertheim has ever written.

I knew Dally had been forced off the circuit by economic difficulties. Glad to see she's back. I wonder if she'll puts her name in for doubles and mixed at the slams? That'd be more money for her expenses.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 02:52 PM   #15
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