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Tennis channel interview

The Tennis Channel

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Evgenia Linetskaya has become the latest standout in a increasingly growing number of young players emerging from Russia. This articulate teenager is friendly, refreshingly candid, and good-humored. Her deep blue eyes illuminate her girlish face, which is often expressive with emotion off court, while steely and focused on.

In March, Linetskaya found herself staring across the net at the world number two-ranked Amelie Mauresmo in the second round of the Pacific Life Open. Linetskaya, who suffered a 6-2, 6-4 setback to Mauresmo in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January, found redemption in the desert — winning three consecutive games to close out her first career victory over a top-10 opponent. Prior to beating Mauresmo, Linetskaya best win to date came earlier in the season at Pattaya City, where she defeated compatriot and world No.11 Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals.

Over the past two years, the 18-year-old has been on a steady diet of ITF challenger events, qualifiers, and the occasional WTA tier II and III events. Her breakthrough occurred at the 2004 U.S. Open, where she played her way through the qualifying rounds before losing in the second round of the main draw.

The 37th ranked Linetskaya travels the globe with her father Simon, who holds a PHD in mathematics and a black belt in Karate. Simon overseas his daughters training regiment and takes care of her traveling arrangements and day-to-day needs. Evgenia has many hobbies which including reading, poetry, and drinking apple juice (when she can find it). She also studied psychology for three years at Moscow University and plans to continue her education online where she’s plans on earning her MBA. In the meantime the young Moscow native will settle for adding her name to the tennis history books.

Q: How did you get your start playing tennis?
EL: I started playing when I was six years old. My mom got me started against the wall of the school building. I remember that the first racquet that I had was bigger than me. Soon after that my parents put me in the tennis school.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the pro tour?
EL: I love playing tennis and that’s the most important thing. I like the competition and setting goals. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to make the top 50, but it turns out that happened very fast so the goal is top 20 now.

Q: This season alone, you’ve made a big move in the rankings. What can you attribute your improvements to?
EL: I’ve made some changes in my training, really working on my physical conditioning, and now, that I’m 18, I’m able to play a full schedule. I’ve been working with a new coach (George Akopian) for almost a year. We used to hit together at the Moscow Tennis Academy where I train now, and then he became my coach.

Q: What is the most difficult thing about being on tour part?
EL: To travel every week, we only get maybe a month of the year or so to be at home. Sometimes I wake up in my own bed at home and think «What a nice hotel I am in.»

Q: What do you do to have fun?
EL: Everything on the tour is fun to me. I like talking to different people. I’m just trying to be serious on the court. But outside the court, I like to have fun. I love going to the movies with other players and having dinner. Marta Domachowska, Anastasiya Yakimova, and Lioudmila Skavronskaia.

Q: What are your favorite hobbies?
EL: I love poetry. When I have free time I enjoy being in nature, which inspires me to write beautiful poems.

Q: Do you have any with you?
EL: I’m not that good at writing them in English - they are much better in Russian.

Q: If you could win only one tournament in your career which would it be?
EL: I would say Wimbledon because there is a ball after for the players and we can dress up and celebrate - it sounds lovely. Plus I like playing on grass; I think it fits my game not too bad.

Q: If you were not a pro tennis player what would you be doing?
EL: Sports psychologist maybe. When I was deciding what to study, I was choosing between literature, philosophy, and psychology. I decided that I could earn more money with Psychology.

Q: How long would you like to play tennis?
EL: It is tough to prognosticate something like this, because you never know how your health will allow you to play because of the injuries. It is very tough psychologically when you are playing at a high level - it’s a lot of pressure on you: it is difficult to win or to lose all of the time.

Q: This season alone, you’ve made a big move in the rankings. What can you attribute your improvements to?
EL: I’ve made some changes in my training, really working on my physical conditioning, and now, that I’m 18 I’m able to play a full schedule. I’ve been working with a new coach (George Akopian) for almost a year. We used to hit together at the Moscow Tennis Academy, where I train now, and then he became my coach.

Q: Can you talk about your trouble finding Apple Juice in the U.S.?
EL: It’s a big problem. Everywhere I go in the U.S. they don’t have apple juice. This is especially a problem in restaurants. When I ask for the apple juice they always say «We have orange, and cranberry» It’s so strange because in America you have everything, but the apple juice is hard to find.

Brad Falkner, a member of the International Tennis Writers Association, has traveled the globe covering professional tennis for a variety of media outlets including Sports Ticker, U.S. Open.org, USTA.com, Tennis Week.com, Tennis reporters.net, Tennis Magazine, Tennis life, and Inside Tennis.