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Thanks for posting this. I was recently telling Daze how much in retrospect I enjoyed watching Helena player hit the ball in her '86 match vs Evert in Fed Cup. What power, what talent...what a backhand!
 

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Thanks Rollo - the site is worth a peak. They list Helena as being the winner of the Czechoslovak International Championships in 83,85 and 87 (with mother Vera having won 6 in 1957-60 and 63-4) Does anyone know anything about this event? I guess it was a largely Eastern European affair but after the mid-70s, I've never seen it reported on/recorded anywhere. I was wondering whether the likes of Olga Morozova and Natasha Chmyreva played there, and got to pit their skills against Marsikova, Mandlikova, Jausovec, Ruzici and co.
 

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Andy T said:
Thanks Rollo - the site is worth a peak. They list Helena as being the winner of the Czechoslovak International Championships in 83,85 and 87 (with mother Vera having won 6 in 1957-60 and 63-4) Does anyone know anything about this event? I guess it was a largely Eastern European affair but after the mid-70s, I've never seen it reported on/recorded anywhere. I was wondering whether the likes of Olga Morozova and Natasha Chmyreva played there, and got to pit their skills against Marsikova, Mandlikova, Jausovec, Ruzici and co.
From what I read in Hana's book, the Czech federation required all players to compete in this tournament. 1981 is the last time that I know of Hana competing in it. She asked for and received an exemption. However she sort of chided Helena for continuing to play the event because she was Cyril Suk's daughter.

I know that Hana played Virginia Ruzici and Andrea Jaeger in Prague. But I think it might have been a seperate exhibition event along with Marsikova.
 

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HanaFanGA said:
From what I read in Hana's book, the Czech federation required all players to compete in this tournament. 1981 is the last time that I know of Hana competing in it. She asked for and received an exemption. However she sort of chided Helena for continuing to play the event because she was Cyril Suk's daughter.

I know that Hana played Virginia Ruzici and Andrea Jaeger in Prague. But I think it might have been a seperate exhibition event along with Marsikova.
Thanks. I have recently borrowed Hana's book from hanafan but not had time to read it yet (too much work and play ;-)) It sounds a bit like the Chinese players of today being obliged to ptake part in their national championships rather than Wimbledon.
 

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I've go to say, Helena is very unlucky not to have finished her career without a slam or two. Between the demise of Austin, and the rise of Graf, and apart from Mandlikova, both Martina and Chris would have been the most wary of Helena.

That's a credit to Helena, given that players who threatened Martina rarely troubled Chris and vice versa.

It's been well documented the ill-feeling between Hana and Helena, but Martina seemed to have a better relationship with Helena.

Also, does anyone know why Helena's doubles partnership with Claudia ended? Was there a falling out?
 

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BCP said:
I've go to say, Helena is very unlucky not to have finished her career without a slam or two. Between the demise of Austin, and the rise of Graf, and apart from Mandlikova, both Martina and Chris would have been the most wary of Helena.

That's a credit to Helena, given that players who threatened Martina rarely troubled Chris and vice versa.

It's been well documented the ill-feeling between Hana and Helena, but Martina seemed to have a better relationship with Helena.

Also, does anyone know why Helena's doubles partnership with Claudia ended? Was there a falling out?
I've always admired what Helena was able to do with her game. I often wondered why she never seemed to be able to beat or pass Pam in the rankings. She had more game from the backcourt and better movement. But Pam had an extra fire in her that propelled her over so many players with more talent and varied games. Helena just didn't have that inside of her. Sometimes, to me, it looked like she accepted defeat a little too easy. Still, I think Helena had a very good career and was a fun player to watch.

I've often wondered about her relationship with Martina. I don't think there was a closeness there at all. But it's understandable considering the defection/Vera Sukova thing in their past. It very much sounds like Vera forgave Martina and wished her well. And I don't think that Helena had any ill will for Martina. Helena had a pleasant smile but was one of the worst dead panners I've ever seen when shaking hands at the net. I'm not sure that she was close to anyone on the tour. But I did notice at the Wimbledon 2000 celebration, Hana and Helena did a lot of speaking and smiling with each other. And oddly enough they showed up with the same hair color and style! So perhaps they called a truce in retirement.

I don't know how much the Czech authorities had to do with Helena dropping Claudia for Jana. But they probably at least encouraged her. There have been some suggestions on this board that Helena was tired of Claudia's lack of confidence in pressure situations. Whether or not that was true, Helena was the rock of that team.
 

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I read that Helena said that Claudia too often choked in pressure situations. One thing about the Czech players, they were blunt and to the point.
 

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preacherfan said:
I read that Helena said that Claudia too often choked in pressure situations. One thing about the Czech players, they were blunt and to the point.

I can't think of a Czech male or female tennis player that doesn't fit that description. There are some definite cultural differences and it often got in the way of them adjusting to life on the tour. Most of the eastern block players seemed to have at least some similar problems.

Unforuntately the Czechs, Slovaks, etc. in that area have only recently been independent. For a long, long time they were under the control of various foreign powers. And the Soviet invasion in the late 60's (which Martina, Ivan, Hana, and Helena all remembered well) seemed to have long lasting psychological effects that created an atmosphere of wariness and suspicion. They had their own social norms about manners and politeness - probably a little different from what we're used to. But they all seemed to hold extreme honesty with less emphasis on diplomacy in high regard. That generation of Czech athletes were amongst the first to travel abroad and deal with the press. So I think it took quite a while to adjust to things on both sides.

I'm just an outsider looking in. I'd love to hear Czechfan or someone of a more educated or insider's view post about this.

I'm not sure what Martina was like in her early years on tour. But for some reason she was able to survive and eventually flourish here. Ivan, Hana, and Jana all primarily live here now. But it took them a lot longer.
 

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HanaFanGA said:
I can't think of a Czech male or female tennis player that doesn't fit that description. There are some definite cultural differences and it often got in the way of them adjusting to life on the tour. Most of the eastern block players seemed to have at least some similar problems.

Unforuntately the Czechs, Slovaks, etc. in that area have only recently been independent. For a long, long time they were under the control of various foreign powers. And the Soviet invasion in the late 60's (which Martina, Ivan, Hana, and Helena all remembered well) seemed to have long lasting psychological effects that created an atmosphere of wariness and suspicion.
and before the Soviets, there were the Nazis and before the Nazis, the Habsburgs....

HanaFanGA said:
I'm just an outsider looking in. I'd love to hear Czechfan or someone of a more educated or insider's view post about this.
Me too - Tommystar? where are you?!

Some deep-seated racism is inevitable after or during violent wars and occupations and even if Britain was never occupied, the anti-German mindset was still very strong during my childhood there. The endless war movies and comic strips didn't help. In Italy and Sweden, I've detected a similar undercurrent but less so in France.

HanaFanGA said:
I'm not sure what Martina was like in her early years on tour. But for some reason she was able to survive and eventually flourish here. Ivan, Hana, and Jana all primarily live here now. But it took them a lot longer.
The only occasion where I felt ashamed to be a Martina fan was during the Wimbledon final (87) when she retorted to the pro-Graf crowd "who's the German out here?" or something to that effect. It was an unforgiveable comment and all the more difficult to understand when you think that Martina had been (and continues to be) on the receiving end of so many below-the-belt jibes regarding her appearance, sexuality and origins. It was totally out of order - all the more so as it could have upset the opponent as well as the crowd.
 

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Someone said that Martina is like a sponge and she absorbs everything. I know she also scored well on her MENSA test. She's a person of many, many talents. Not just on the tennis court.

And I hope no one thinks I was trying to characterize Czechs or other people from eastern block countries too much with my last post. I hate generalizations about nations, races, etc anyway. But as someone who got interested in that part of the world and did some independent reading on the 20th centuy history of it, those are my uneducated thoughts on why some of the Czech athletes reacted to things the way they did.
 

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HanaFanGA said:
I can't think of a Czech male or female tennis player that doesn't fit that description. There are some definite cultural differences and it often got in the way of them adjusting to life on the tour. Most of the eastern block players seemed to have at least some similar problems.

Unforuntately the Czechs, Slovaks, etc. in that area have only recently been independent. For a long, long time they were under the control of various foreign powers. And the Soviet invasion in the late 60's (which Martina, Ivan, Hana, and Helena all remembered well) seemed to have long lasting psychological effects that created an atmosphere of wariness and suspicion. They had their own social norms about manners and politeness - probably a little different from what we're used to. But they all seemed to hold extreme honesty with less emphasis on diplomacy in high regard. That generation of Czech athletes were amongst the first to travel abroad and deal with the press. So I think it took quite a while to adjust to things on both sides.

I'm just an outsider looking in. I'd love to hear Czechfan or someone of a more educated or insider's view post about this.

I'm not sure what Martina was like in her early years on tour. But for some reason she was able to survive and eventually flourish here. Ivan, Hana, and Jana all primarily live here now. But it took them a lot longer.
great post. yeah, i was going to say that the 'deadpan expression' of sukova at net reminded me always of ivan lendl. both the czechs and that special nationality known as 'the maleevas' were joyless, but i dont know if it is true of other bulgarians. the petite bulg who beat venus at this years OZ was definitely military in her presentation. but maggie (possibly because she was by far the youngest maleeva) came out a bit of a daisy.
 

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daze11 said:
great post. yeah, i was going to say that the 'deadpan expression' of sukova at net reminded me always of ivan lendl. both the czechs and that special nationality known as 'the maleevas' were joyless, but i dont know if it is true of other bulgarians. the petite bulg who beat venus at this years OZ was definitely military in her presentation. but maggie (possibly because she was by far the youngest maleeva) came out a bit of a daisy.
That's one reason why it was bittersweet to see Hana come back in 1989. She was clearly a different person on tour. She lost a lot of her edge but she also became someone more people wanted to be around. I loved listening to Mary Carillo talk about shooting the breeze with Hana and her dry sense of humor and that she could now laugh at herself with others without thinking they were laughing AT her.

And I'll never forget her answer to Linda Pentz's question about what she and Martina were laughing about while playing doubles. She schocked poor Linda, Al Trautwig and their USA network audience by blurting out that they were talking about sex. :lol:

And since this thread is really about Helena, I'd add that she looks very happy and relaxed these days. I hope life is treating her as good as it seems to be. Same with Jana.
 

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HanaFanGA said:
But as someone who got interested in that part of the world and did some independent reading on the 20th centuy history of it
Hey, so did I. I finished a book on the Hungarian student uprising a few months ago, and I've just started reading one on the post-WWII political scene in Romania. I've always been interested in Eastern Europe, and I sometimes wonder how much of it has to do with my being fascinated by Martina's defection story (which my dad told me when I was about six or so), and, consequently, following tennis players who all came from behind the Iron Curtain (Mandlikova, MaleevaX3, Sukova, Lendl, Mecir, et al).

There was an article in the NYT circa Nov 1989 or so about the reunification of Germany that mentioned in passing how tennis was never really promoted in the former East Germany. I'll post the article here if I can find it.
 

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There were a tremendous amount of players who had excellent game back then, and their career records and achievements are amazing compared to most of today's players, even those with the lone slam title. However I must remind you that these things simply didn't happen back then... Only the top players ever won GS titles, there was no such thing as an even distribution of slams to every talented player out there as we see today...
 

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It was quite simply unthinkable back then to grab away a title from the evert-navratilova-seles-graf-sanchez vicario stranglehold back then... perhaps mandlikova managed to do it in the 80s, but she may well be the sole one.. so many players walked away from tennis without a title they may have deserved due to this "rule": Sukova, MJ Fernandez, Manuela Maleeva, Kimiko Date, etc. Martinez, Novotna and Sabatini managed to claim one title each.
 

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I just noticed that Helena won the doubles and mixed doubles titles at the 1993 US Open as well as reaching the singles final. That's brilliant. :worship:
 

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Faiz15 said:
It was quite simply unthinkable back then to grab away a title from the evert-navratilova-seles-graf-sanchez vicario stranglehold back then... perhaps mandlikova managed to do it in the 80s, but she may well be the sole one.. so many players walked away from tennis without a title they may have deserved due to this "rule": Sukova, MJ Fernandez, Manuela Maleeva, Kimiko Date, etc. Martinez, Novotna and Sabatini managed to claim one title each.
I think though that the injury prone contemporary game has a lot to do with that. Imagine Venus & Serena, Justine, Capriati, Hingis and Davenport competing without all those regular interruptions in their careers because of injuries and sickness and I don't think that many others would have won a major title the last six or seven years or so.
 

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hingis-seles said:
I just noticed that Helena won the doubles and mixed doubles titles at the 1993 US Open as well as reaching the singles final. That's brilliant. :worship:
I remember that thing, it was highly written-up at that Open, since Martina's triple crown in 87 none was even close to that.
(The other highlight of that USO would have been that Gigi and Natasha went for the calender Grand Slam, but failed in the semis to Sukova/Sanchez.)
 

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