Monday, January 25, 2010

Few days at home.

Sometimes players don't do as well in the tournament as they expect. And the next tournament doesn't start till a week later, that creates some time off. In my case I have 5 days between the tournaments.
What do I do in these 5 days besides practice? Lots of things that have nothing to do with tennis.
One of my other passions besides tennis is decorating. During my one year knee injury (I had an ACL reconstructive surgery in the end of '05, just as I got to my best career rank of 51) I went to study Interior Design.

At the beginning I was scared to go to school again, it has been 12 years since my high school graduation, so my fears were to be the worst in the class. But to my surprise after about two classes I felt like I never left school.
You see, when I first came to United States, my plan was to get a scholarship at the university and study international management. But suddenly I started doing very well on the pro circuit and my decision has changed to pursue my dream, to be a professional tennis player. And it was a decision I will never regret, because not only I got to pursue my dream, but also to travel the world and meet incredible people.

So now that you know on of my other passions I will tell you what I do with it. Well, apart that I could literally live at DCOTA design center and every other furniture and interior design
store, I love painting walls. If I am not mistaken, the walls in my house were painted and re-painted at least 6 times. And right now I am helping my friend to decorate his house.
I have almost finished with a kitchen ( I volunteered to paint) and now off to the living room. So instead of doing upper body exercises I just go and paint the walls!

I have also celebrated my "thirty something" birthday. The party was a bit delayed, because I was playing a tournament.
I was not the only person who had my birthday on January 18th. One of the coaches who I know
for a long time also celebrates his birthday on the same date. And he happens to stay for a few
days with my ex-coach Marco, with whom I have split a while ago. And this gave me a chance to reconcile with Marco, who had a big impact on my life on and off court.
Sometimes we forget to thank people from our past who helped us to shape our future. And I would like to thank Marco for teaching me how to be a better person and player.

Excited to see my new and old friends, I was helping my boyfriend to make hamburgers that we were going to put on the grill...but....the barbecue has "died" just in front of our eyes.
It made a big "PUFFFF" and the flames have disappeared.
Standing in silence in front of the grill, with a big tray of raw hamburgers, we didn't know what to do next. But thanks to my boyfriend's skilled cooking we ended up eating hamburgers in a shape of meatballs. Let me add-great meatballs!

I have one more day before I am off to California,
lets see what kind of fun a new day will bring. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 22, 2010



I almost forgot how competitive small tournaments are. And how hard I have to work to win them. And because I was sick most of the last year, unable to play at my best, my ranking has dropped and that forced me to play qualifying.
Surprisingly I was not the only former top 100 player to play these events. Many other girls close to my age were forced to start their year grinding in qualifying of small events. Girls like Catalina Castano former top 40 player, Olivia Sanchez, Mariana Lucic, Mashona Washington, Eva Birnerova and even Nicole Vaidisova (main draw) who was top 10 player two years ago! And I am not talking about junior players who are just starting out on tour. Needless to say that it's tough. Not only you have to be in great psychical and mental shape but you also have to be well off financially to travel to all these events, because there is no money in these tournaments unless you win the whole thing. And most of the time you spend more money then you earn.

And of course there are tennis parents. Lots of them! They are even more competitive then their kids. They yell, they scream, they walk around like crazy people talking to themselves when their child is playing. There are constant "come on's and lets go, you can do it and take your time." Then they look at the coaches, who are as nervous as they are and ask "Why is she doing that? How is it possible?" It's a never ending circus which I can't bear to watch. But I am right there in the middle of it. So I tell myself- get your mind together, get as many points as possible and lets get out of these small events to more "civilized" tournaments, where will also be parents, coaches and agents but it won't be so openly dramatic as at the small events.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The off season.

Ahhh, the long awaited "off season"!!!!
I think it's only called that way to make everyone feel like they are resting, but the truth is, it's the hardest practice time for a pro-player!
Everyone has a different time frame for their "preparation." This is going to be my final season playing tennis professionally so I thought that 5 weeks will do just fine for me. And after the final flight of the year (which felt like never ending) I landed on Florida's soil!
Everything was just fine until I got through the security....then I started shaking. My whole body was shivering and my energy level dropped so much that I was barely pushing my luggage cart.
I don't know how I got to the car rental company....I think I just had enough in me to rent a car and put my bags in the trunk.
For the next four hours I was laying on a declined car seat, shaking all the way to my bones, thinking that I am not able to drive myself home.
Thank God my boyfriend was arriving the same evening and I decided to wait for him and let him drive home.

And that's how my OFF SEASON started! Laying sick in bed for almost two weeks!
At times I would move from my bed to the living room's couch and look outside the window where the sun was shining and luring me to come outside.....The long awaited warm weather, my plans to go to the beach during a week off....I hope the illnesses I had this past year, from vertigo to bronchitis and a horrible flu at the end of the year, are all gone, and next year I will be healthy.
That is one of my wishes for 2010!

Finally after about two weeks of flu, still couching a bit but feeling better, I have decided to start practicing again. I called my fitness coach Jo Jo (or "torturer" my nickname for him) and my tennis coach Nick who has been helping me this year,to set up the schedule for the next few weeks. I was ready to go!

First couple of tennis practices were very short and lacked energy on my part. Of course, I must have lost five or six pounds being sick! I am already having hard time gaining weight as is, (something a lot of women would kill for) and now I have to work twice as hard to gain my weight back plus some extra pounds of muscles.

So here I am on the New Years Eve, it's 6 pm, but I am ready to go to bed. I joke with my friends that in these three weeks of my "preparation" I have moved the GYM I work out at, from the street it stands on, closer to my house.
I have to get dressed for the New Years party tonight but I have no energy to do so. I thought of the small toothless boy who watched me work out today, together with his little friends , he slowly approached me and said: "I was watching you. And I must say you are doing a great job!" Even he understands how hard I worked! And he is like six!!!!
I better do a great job! This is my last year playing professionally and I want it to be a great one! I am ready! I worked my butt off! I was sore and grumpy for two weeks out of three!
I have to be ready and be back in shape!

So please join me in 2010, my last year on the Tour!
I will try to make it fun and adventurous! Come with me to play and travel around the world!