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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 06:38 PM   #1
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Smile Maria has won me over!

I have been pretty ambivalent about Masha Sharapova until this week. I would usually cheer for her, but I would wince when I would hear of yet another photo shoot. Was Maria going down the Anna-Daniela road?

Also, it seemed she was floundering on the tenn is court.lsoing matches I thought she ought to win. She was hyped to the sky, yet she could not get career off the ground. Was she any good after all?

This week, though, Masha answered all my questions. She fought and fought and fought! People complained about her shrieks, so she stopped, and played even better!

How heartbreaking to lose in a 3rd-set tiebreak today, then, after so much spirit shown all week long.

But it doesn't matter. It's another learning experience for her; everything this week was new to her and I know she is soaking it up and learning from everything around her.

Maria's fierce will to win is, now don't get mad, everybody , a little unusual among the Russians we all cheer for. Her trip to the top levels may not be a quick one, because she is so young and inexperienced, but I don't picture that her road will have so much of the "one step forward, two steps back" or plateau-ing elements that are the familiar territory of fans of the Russian women.

Maria, PLEASE don't lose your fighting spirit as your career and popularity take off!!! Focus on your tennis; it will reward you greatly. Just keep on fighting as you did in your matches this week, and I know you will do great. And I will be cheering you on.
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 08:51 PM   #2
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That was very well said Janie! But because Maria is so young and so tall, there are going to be lots of ups and downs in the beginning of her career.

I have mixed feelings about her losing today. I am happy she played well and made the semi's, beating the Darling One (Demetieva) along the way. But I am glad she came out of this tournament in good health. Maria had only played 5 WTA Tour matches all year long. But in Birmingham she played 7 matches in 1 tournament! That has to be a shock to her system.

Maria took a big step forward this week. And the important thing is for her to keep taking steps forward and not go backwards.

Udachi Maria!
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 10:28 PM   #3
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Yes, cat, I agree there will be ups and downs for Maria at the start. Already she's been down, then up!

When i mentioned She won't do the 2 steps forward, 1 step back, and the plateauing things, I meant later on in her career. Rookies are allowed to be all over the map; I don't think that reflects their lack of will to win, but only their lack of experience at this level.
And young players who shoot up fast to a high level are allowed to have an adjustment year, as they adapt to the new life of being the Favorite most times they play.

So by the time she is 18, I expect Maria to be a steady player climbing to the top, a la Kim Clijsters!
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 11:02 PM   #4
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I am not that optimistic. The benchmark is Anna. At Maria's age Anna had steely nerves, would not lose close matches, and would beat a player like Asagoe 1 and 2, easily. But who said Masha is going to achieve anywhere close to Anna.
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 11:14 PM   #5
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Maria sure won me over, I was sceptical about jumping on the bandwagon (I was more interested in the tennis, there will only be Anna and Elena for me, but that masha is good looking is a bonus!). so I went to watch her match, and it was evident to me, that she had talent. I could not believe the amount of power, and precision she hit the ball with!
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Old Jun 15th, 2003, 12:30 AM   #6
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dava, thanks for the scouting report on Maria!

ys, this is a different time and different place. I don't think Anna at 16 is the benchmark for Maria or any other Russian girl. You are being unfair to Maria by comparing her to Anna when Anna was 16. Anna got to play much more often the Maria does. Women's tennis is much stronger and deeper now than it was in 1997. And Maria is much bigger than Anna, and will naturally take more time to develope and mature physically.

If you read the Birmingham reports from TBE and dava, it's apparent that Maria has the power and weapons that Anna never had. And Maria actually bends her knees on her serve giving her serve the power Anna's serve never had.

I think Maria will be a contender for Tier 1 titles when she's 18 and with any luck she will be a grand slam contender by the time she is 19!
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Old Jun 20th, 2003, 12:42 PM   #7
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ys, this is a different time and different place. I don't think Anna at 16 is the benchmark for Maria or any other Russian girl. You are being unfair to Maria by comparing her to Anna when Anna was 16. Anna got to play much more often the Maria does. Women's tennis is much stronger and deeper now than it was in 1997. And Maria is much bigger than Anna, and will naturally take more time to develope and mature physically.
Well said, cat. Anna is a strange benchmark to use anyway. Why not haul out Martina Hingis at age 16, if you really want to go down this comparison road? She was winning Slams then. Hey, it's easy to find reasons to be pessimistic about Maria, if you want to hunt for them in this manner. I am looking at character.

I look forward to the day when articles will appear about Maria's tennis without mentioning Anna's name, and when a thread admiring Maria also does not bring on the unrelated topic of Anna, who I believe has very little in common with Maria.

I look forward to seeing who Maria is as she grows up through her teen years -- how focussed, how driven, how mentally balanced, how eager to improve. I hope she stays injury-free, but if not, I want to see how she handles injury layoffs and comebacks, a crucial component of successful tennis careers these days.

I hope the type of publicity Maria will receive will not confuse her or turn her head. And we all know how everything can change for tennis girls when the hormones kick in -- I want to see how Maria handles the treacherous 16-to-20 years. I hope by age 20 she is still rising, and not on a downhill slide, like many teen phenoms we see. Only time will tell. Best of luck to her!
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Old Jun 20th, 2003, 03:04 PM   #8
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Right now my greatest concern for Maria is her coordination. She has said she has grown almost 4 inches in the last year and she sometimes feels uncoordinated. My second greatest concern for Maria is what Janie said about those very tricky and treacherous years between ages 16 to 20. Who knows what will happen to her and what changes she will go through. I just hope she keeps her head screwed on straight.

Maria has a great opportunity to win her first grand slam match at Wimbledon. I think she's up to the task.
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Old Jun 20th, 2003, 03:24 PM   #9
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cat, I was just thinking, I would like Maria's career trajectory to be more like Justine's has been than like Hingis' was. Better not to burn too brightly at age 16 and be out of the game by 22.

But I do hope she wins her first Wimbledon match! it is time to take that step (I hope!).
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Old Jun 21st, 2003, 01:35 PM   #10
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Women's tennis will never see another Martina Hingis. The cards are stacked against young players from making it to the top at 16 like Hingis did.

I just want to see Maria taking consistent steps forward in her career. And not 1 step forward and 2 steps back as is the case with the Russian girls.
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Old Jun 21st, 2003, 03:54 PM   #11
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Maria has a great opportunity to win her first grand slam match at Wimbledon. I think she's up to the task.
Maria has a great opportunity to win her first four matches at Wimbledon this year, and I think she could be up to the task. She might not do it - and it won't be too disappointing if she's not ready yet - but it's such a positive sign that it's a realistic possibilit at this early stage in her career. Udachi Masha!
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Old Jun 21st, 2003, 09:14 PM   #12
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Now let's not get ahead of ourselves, S7. Let's see Maria win her first round match against Ashley Harkleroad. At this point I'd gladly settle for a Sharapova versus Bovina matchup in round 2 and just stand back and watch the fur fly! That would be a wild match if it happens!

Udachi Maria and the rest of the Russinas!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2003, 08:34 PM   #13
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It's hard to play a fearless and rapidly-rising 16-year-old. I will feel sad for Elena if she gets to that match and then dissolves in error-mode.

(Hey, I said Maria had won me over; I never said she had passed some other faves on my list yet!)

This part of the draw really is a great opportunity for SOMEBODY, though. Who will it be???
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