It’s that time of year – Tennis season! Sure, tennis doesn’t really have an offseason and one major tournament has already been played – the Aussi Open in January – but honestly, who really followed that? Over the next 7 weeks, two majors will be played; first the French Open at Roland Garros and then Wimbledon at the All English Club.
While there may be other tennis hungry “writers” here at The On Deck Circle who’ll talk about ace percentages, back hand form and service speeds; I want to provide you with a more aesthetically pleasing preview of the WTA’s Major Season. To keep this under the auspices of a “preview” I am only going to “profile” players ranked in the Top 25 of the Roland Garros field. These women are athletes first! Keep in mind, I really know very little about tennis.
So now, I present you 9 names to know and players to “watch” during the French Open and Wimbledon over next few weeks. Players are listed with their name, French Open ranking and listed country of origin. Names are listed by actual tennis rankings.
Maria Sharapova – 1 – Russia
This 21 year old Russian is the top ranked player in the French Open field. She is right handed and is looking to complete the career Grand Slam with a victory at Roland Garros. In 2007 she was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.
Ana Ivanovic – 2 – Serbia
This 20 year old Serbian, currently ranked second on the WTA Tour, has been a professional since 2004. Though she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament, she made the Finals of last year’s French Open and this year’s Aussi Open.
Anna Chakvetadze – 6 – Russia
This 21 year old Russian is ranked sixth going into her fourth French Open. She has been playing tennis since the age of 8. Though she joined the International Tennis Federation tour in 2001, she didn’t debut on the WTA until 2004. She made a splash when she defeated World No. 3 Anastasia Myskina in the 2004 US Open, becoming the second fastest player to defeat a world top 10 in WTA history.
Elena Dementieva – 7 – Russia
This 26 year old, also a Russian, has been a professional for 10 years already. Though she hasn’t won a Grand Slam, she has come close on 2 occaisions, losing in the finals of the French and US Open, both in 2004. Wikipedia says “Her forehand in particular is a fearsome weapon due to the power and placement of the shot and her ability to flatten it out.” Annnnnnnd, that’s what she said.
Daniela Hantuchova – 10 – Slovakia
Hantuchova, a 25 year old Slovakian, is currently the 10th ranked player in the world. Despite being a professional since 1999, she only has 3 WTA and 3 ITF singles titles to her name. Luckily for her, she speaks six languages and was trained as a classical pianist; so she has a fall back career if the $5 million in career earnings dry up.
Nicole Vaidisova – 16 – Czech Republic
The youngest player on the list at the age of 19, Vaidisova is in her fifth year as a professional. She has won 6 WTA singles titles and has been featured in Reebok’s “I Am What I Am” and “Run Easy” campaigns. She is particularly passionate about charitable opportunities and is currently an ambassador for PlayPumps International, an NGO that hopes to bring clean drinking water to Africa.
Tatiana Golovin – 21 – France
Golovin, age 20, is the token French patriotic inclusion on the list. I suppose it’s not surprising, but she was born in Moscow before moving to Paris (see a pattern yet?) She has 2 career titles since turning pro in 2002. Her best Grand Slam finish was losing in the fourth round of the 2006 US Open.
Maria Kirilenko – 23 – Russia
Another 21 year old Russian, Kirilenko is not related to NBA player Andrei. Though she has yet to win a WTA singles title, she has won 4 WTA doubles titles with partners Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta. She was selected by Adidas to be the face of their Stella McCartnet tennis line.
Alona Bondarenko – 25 – Ukraine
Bondarenko, a 23 year old Ukrainian, has played professionally since 1999. She has had success as a doubles player, teaming with both her older sister Valeria and younger sister Kateryna. She currently is a spokeswoman for K-Swiss, along with Ana Kournikova.
Enjoy the tennis!
This article has been submitted by Alex Jackson.