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Coach Writing...

How we met our – calm & reliable – hitting partner (part 2)

Our electric team member & working horse

Just to be clear: this machine saved Oleksandra’s tennis career – at least, on current level. If we do not have it, Sashka wouldn’t definitely reach that level where she is now (National Junior Champion & world Top-500 junior player).

Nobody knows for sure (except me 🙂) whether she will ever enter pro tour & when she will manage to do this, but without this purchase she would probably finish with competitive tennis this spring.

This is our honest review of Lobster Grand 5 Elite LE tennis ball machine & its usage in training process of a competitive junior female player. While we got a discount from local Lobster dealer, we are NOT obliged to post any promotional articles about the machine. That’s why we will notice some “cons” as well as many well-deserved “pros” of Lobster Grand 5 Elite LE.
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Rising An Underdog (thoughts before Sashka’s first pro match)

It is good to be an Underdog

When Sashka was 8, she moved from Kyiv, her birth place, to Odessa, a beautiful city near the Black Sea. That year Elena Bryukhovets, a former WTA Top-50 player and a coach of Maria Kirilenko, started her own tennis academy project in Ukraine.

After Sashka came in academy space first time to practice in the group, somebody immediately showed her a pretty 9-years-old girl who had individual practices only. “Look there, this girl is going to be a world top-10 player!”. It was Dayana Yastremska. In 6 years she will play in the final round of junior Wimbledon.

Several years later Sashka entered the tennis hall of Good To Great tennis academy in Stockholm, Sweden. She saw a lot of boys and girls hitting, serving & playing on many courts – but somebody pointed to dark-skin guy, who practiced under supervising of several coaches. “Meet the new future star of world tennis”. It was Mikael Ymer, the junior Wimbledon-2015 runner-up.
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Sashka is back!

Short, but good vacation in Croatian Lim Bay before relocation far from the sea

We went offline for almost two weeks for a quite important reason – a complete restart of Sashka’s tennis career. She has relocated to another city & club. She replaced her coach & training system. Finally, she is trying to change her mental stance to really believe that the hardest part of her life is behind her, and “the sky is clear” now, at least for several monthes.
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Going to Hamburg!


There are quite a lot of routine tennis things happened since my previous post. We spent hours on the court daily, working on what we can improve fast, both technically & tactically. We still can’t forecast where is Sashka’s “honest” place in ITF Juniors ranking (#379 now) whether she is sitting too high or too low at the time. But one thing is quite definite: we have a training process “close to normal” now, so it is time to play tournaments and try to earn some experience & ITF points.
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Sashka & Croatian tennis: no discrimination… but the main problem is still on table

Sashka loves Croatia!

I must admit that I was wrong blaming Croatian tennis federation of a kind of discrimination in my previous post. We discussed the National Team incusion issue with National Team coach, and I am more than satisfied with what I’ve heard.

As for a free court support, it was just a technical problem – people suggested that Sashka does not need this form of assistance as she rarely practice in Zagreb. From now, as an acting U16 champion of Croatia, she can use this benefit too.

Meanwhile, the biggest & most important problem of Sashka’s tennis being is still not solved: A CITIZENSHIP. Sashka is formally a stateless person. Furthermore, her refugee status will expire in December 2017, so 6 months before, in June 2017, virtually any country can reject her passport as a document for entrance, as its expiration date is too close!

I am really afraid of this scenario… If it becomes a reality, we will de-facto become prisoners inside the country. Croatia is NOT a member of Schengen zone, so there is a border control on all state borders. If Sashka loses her opportunity to travel to international tennis tournaments, what pro career are we talking about?
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National Champ is in da house (positive) and some thoughts about Sashka’s citizenship (not so positive)

Oleksandra Oliynykova & Sara Zalukar

We kept a silence (both in this blog & Twitter) about Sashka’s performance on Winter National Championship U16. The reason is very simple: we both (Sashka & me as a current coach) did not want her story to be just a media hype. At the end of the day, the only thing matters is your game’s quality. Sashka was not “optimized” for this tournament, actually it was not scheduled at all & came last-minute as a replacement for two ITF Grade 5’s in Bosnia which we should skip because of Sashka’s upcoming relocation. But now I can share some details of this unexpected, but deserved victory… as well as several additional paragraphs on such an important & painful issue as Sashka’s (undefined) citizenship.
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Big changes are coming – thanks to Sara Errani – thanks to #TeamSashka members – blog updates

Sara Errani

After a five-day break, we are online again with latest Sashka news. We have something to tell about: in the nearest weeks Sashka will change a coach, club & location. You never know whether any changes are ultimately for good, but in our situation the change itself is something positive, as it may bring an exit from the dead end.

We also want to thank Sara Errani, the only WTA/ATP player who made a material support for Sashka.
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Off-season: what’s now?


So 2016 junior tennis season is officially closed for Sashka. I think it was a very successful tennis year… in wrong & unhappy environment.

For sure, it is not a big deal to finish season on #430 position of ITF Juniors rankings. But this is a huge achievement if someone takes into account where Sashka started (#1000) and what this year looked like for our family.

When Sashka played quali in Italy ITF Grade 2 this spring, we had money enough only for 3-nights stay in the cheapest hotel and auto gas to reach the tournament venue & return home. No budget for food at all!

So I put in the car some canned meat, potatoes, vegetables and bread from home, and cooked it in the hotel bathroom (!!!) using compact multi-cooker. Sashka played excellent quali there – probably because she was tired of my food 🙂 & aimed to get full hospitality (incliding meal) after entering main draw.

Anyway, we are at finish point of year 2016 and simultaneously ready to start into 2017.  But… where to go?
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