There is a first time for everything. After falling earlier this season in her first final to Sara Errani in Acapulco, the young Slovak clinched her first career title by defeating last year’s finalist, Camila Giorgi of Italy in straight sets. It was a career week for the young Slovak as she played smart, focused tennis during the week. In her match against last year’s champion, Alize Cornet, Schmiedlova used her excellent cross court back hand to full effect. In the final against Giorgi, at no point did she display any frustrations or nerves and her composure in serving for the match has got to be one of the all time displays of composure from such a young player.
Over in Charleston at the Family Circle Cup, Angelique Kerber snapped her 0-4 losing record in finals to battle from a break down in the third set against Madison Keys to win the Family Circle Cup. It was a huge win for the German who has been struggling with her mental game for quite some time. I won’t say she is a dark horse pick for the French Open, but things look a lot more interesting if Kerber somehow finds her game on clay.
Madison Keys played her heart out and then some. She battled hard but the German who gets every ball back in play was too much. The above picture paints a picture of what Keys looked like at the end of a very gruelling match.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Spin’s Player of the week is Angelique Kerber. She came to Charleston losing 8 of her last 11 matches and having an 8-9 W/L for 2015. In her first match, she was down a break at 4-2 in the deciding set against Evgeniya Rodina but ended up winning.
Lucie Hradecka – She made the semifinals in Charleston after making the main draw via qualifying. Lucie would go on to defeat 3 seeded players in Zarina Diyas, Caroline Garcia and Sara Errani. She also made folks aware of her beautiful smile and really big serve. One good thing about Hradecka moving up the rankings is that she won’t have to play qualifying any more. Well done.
THIS AND THAT
There has been much discussion regarding what professional tennis players earn and that there should be an increase by the Grand Slams and/or the WTA/ATP to assist players in making ends meet. Many of the articles that I have read speak about what players have to endure in terms of hiring a trainer, coach, physio, doctor etc. To my mind there are solutions to these issues and it may take players going back to the drawing board and reevaluating just exactly what it is that they really need in order to be successful.
In the real world, one is never expected to spend more than what one earns. This is simple economics. For example, in certain law firms, paralegals receive a fixed salary. Attorneys on the other hand receive a fixed salary, plus commission. Some might think that this arrangement is unfair as if both the paralegals and attorneys work on a matter then they should both receive a commission. This seems to be the situation with the tournaments and the players. The players are of the view that the Grand Slams are making all this money off the backs of players and therefore they deserve more than they are getting. The Grand Slams on the other hand (though they have not said it openly) are of the view that if but for the Grand Slams, these guys would not have a job and they should be grateful.
It is in fact a classic chicken and egg scenario. If there are no tournaments, players can’t play. If there are no players, tournaments don’t exist. However, I submit that in this scenario it is the players who need the tournaments and holding the tournaments by the short and curlies by trying to get increased prize money is not a good solution.
Going back to my analogy above, it would seem to me that what needs to happen is that players need to cut their expenses in an effort to survive. This means that giving up first class airline tickets, no coaches, no personal trainers, no physio etc., is the way to go, but of course, you are now faced with a situation where you arrive at a tournament not match fit, lose in the first round, and you are back to square one. The solution. Organisation.
It seems to me that if you are not making enough money to keep your head above water, why in the world do you fly first class? Why do you feel the need to have a personal trainer, a physio and a coach? If you are unable to break even in your chosen field of endeavour, why would you put additional pressure on yourself to be responsible for the well being of 2 or 3 other persons and their families? It sounds as if it becomes a case of throwing good money after bad. Some suggestions:
1. We hear talk all the time about players on the ATP being quite friendly, has anyone thought that it may be a good idea to share trainers/physios? I can’t imagine that either of these folks is happy making little or nothing from a player to whom they are contracted who is barely scratching the surface of existence. How about all these people coming together and offering their services collectively. There would be no affiliation to any player, and it would be akin to going to a doctor’s office where everyone receives the same treatment. A cadre of trainers/physios who are available worldwide to treat players would surely cut down on the individual cost to players.
2. Airlines – players travel and while airlines are in the business of making money, perhaps having the WTA/ATP arranging discount tickets for players who have to travel on a regular basis would be the way to go. Perhaps this is a discussion that the WTA/ATP could look into and possibly make it part of a branding/sponsorship deal.
3. Coaching, yes everyone needs a personal coach (not quite sure why), but if you can’t afford your own personal coach, how about sharing a coach? Why can’t there be a system where a cadre of tennis coaches (who are barely existing anyway with only one player who keeps losing), form themselves into a coaching studio where various coaches are available for selection. They travel to all ATP/WTA tournaments and are available by appointment for individual coaching sessions.
In one of the interviews that I read, Benjamin Becker indicated that he has to sometimes stay with families while he is on the road. That is great and frankly more players should do that. While I understand that everyone would like to stay in a 5 star hotel, it is just not feasible, so there is no shame in staying with families.
On Court Coaching
In Sunday’s Family Circle Cup match, Pam Shriver was hard pressed to have Madison Keys continually call on designated coach, Lisa Raymond to come on court to give advice. This is an open request to Pam Shriver. STOP IT. JUST STOP IT. You have anointed this young woman the future of American Tennis. In order for her to be able to do that she has to learn to think on court for herself. You have all indicated that winning Grand Slams is what matters. You have insisted that Wimbledon is her best shot. What would be the point if she somehow gets to a Wimbledon final and her serve has been broken. She not only has to figure out how to break serve, but she also has to figure out how she is going to win this match. She can’t call a designated coach at Wimbledon. All eyes will be on her to watch her try and figure things out. Stop advocating for women to show weakness at the first sign of adversity. You are a part of the problem. Start being part of the solution.
Starting next week Master Ace and I will be previewing our Roland Garros dark horses. If you have suggestions on players that you think we should be keeping our eyes on for Roland Garros, let us know in the comments.
Caroline Wozniacki has reportedly hired Sanchez-Vicario as her coach up to Roland Garros.