This week brought to Sashka a lot of new experiences: gradually she becomes familiar with the best European junior tennis tournaments (outside Grand Slams, of course). One of such events is ITF Juniors Grade 1 tournament in Offenbach, Germany – a 25-years tradition tourney with a lot of future tennis stars earning their ITF Juniors points & titles here.
In the day of qualification matches sign-in, players, coaches & parents watched the Women’s Roland Garros final on the big screen TV at the lobby of the host tennis club. The portrait of that match hero, Jelena Ostapenko, was on the stand dedicated to the tournament history: in 2012 she played quarterfinal singles & final doubles here in Offenbach! Nearby we also found teenage photos of Pablo Carreno Busta, Ana Konjuh and many others.
Please find below our report on Sashka’s travel to Offenbach (which is still in progress!)
I am writing this post, sitting on the open terrace of Santa Croce Tennis Club – the legendary place of European junior tennis. Martina Hingis & Victoria Azarenka, Gustavo Kuerten & Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic & Amelie Mauresmo played here while being juniors. Though the tournament itself is over for Sashka – she lost yesterday in the final round of qualifications – we both are very happy to be here. Below I want to tell you what we experienced, saw & felt in these past 3 days.
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.
We are going home from Bavaria region of Germany, with disappointing results and a long to-do list. Now it is obvious that Sashka’s current ranking position is “ahead of herself”. Two first-round losses are deserved; it is just a confirmation of a big miracle she made in the middle of 2016 jumping to 300-400th positions in ITF Juniors race. Her REAL junior ranking is probably around 1000th. It was NOT a bad luck or wrong day – both in Hamburg and Cadolzburg Sashka lost because her quality & mental stance was not enough to win.
Well, now we have a whole month to practice before the next tournament (in the end of March). Let’s see what will be changed till then.
What a day! What matches Sashka has played & won!
…Hmmm, well, actually there are a lot of things for the team (not for Sashka – she is definitely a hero of the day!) NOT to be proud of.
First of well, her fitness & conditioning is a “trouble zone”. She has at least 5-7 kg overweight. She lacks “continouos power”. Her diet is still unregulated.
Please do not advice us to “find a good nutritionist”. We anyway do not have extra money for that :). But some books or tutorials will be greatly welcomed – we are doing this stuff by ourselves now (me & Sashka), reading, learning & implementing.
But you know what? With all these conditioning problems, Sashka has NOT lost any 3-sets match in this season (she played 3 of them to date).
Sashka is in Hamburg, she won her first quali match today, and we now have a short rest before scheduled walking to downtown to see some interesting places of Hamburg. Courts are completely full today (10 rounds should be played – I think, it will last till the midnight!), but we want to make some “refreshing” conditioning in the evening. Read below what else interesting we had for these 2 days.
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.
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?
After last-minute (a kind of) sponsorshir offer which may allow Sashka to travel tournaments for 2-3 months, we decided to postpone our “Big Tennis Trip”. The new dates are from middle of February to beginning of March 2017. It was not an easy decision, by the way – but our Twitter friends from #TeamSashka have found right reasons for us.
This is where Sashka is going to play next month. There is still a window for big surprise: if a private sponsor comes till Dec. 20, we will change everything for Latin America. But a probability of such an outcome is low. So we opt for more realistic schedule.