Carina Witthöft: Coveting speed


Coveting Speed

Fast ground strokes, a heavy serve: Carina Witthöft is one of the exciting tennis talents. At the tournament in Stuttgart she could meet her role model.Carina Witthöft first had to travel to a Swabian village called Weissach to meet Andre Agassi in the flesh for the first time.

The young German tennis player had only seen the former No.1 – and husband of Steffi Graf – on TV so far. The 20 year old is in the process of learning the ropes of the pro tour. But she is already considered one of the exciting talents in the world of tennis.

Witthöft’s parents own a tennis academy in Hamburg. Her mother Gaby, as her coach, is responsible for her good technical skills. Witthöft is playing exciting tennis with fast ground strokes, often following up her heavy first serve with a forehand winner. “That’s the play I’m practising the most at the moment,” Witthöft says. She is moving well, looks very fit and therefore can win long rallies even from a defensive position.

Witthöft’s life changed with her surprising run to the third round of the Australian Open in January. All of a sudden she is one of the attractions at the most important German women’s tournament in Stuttgart. As a matter of course she was invited to the test track in Weissach on her day off, where she, besides Agassi, also met the Fed Cup player Angelique Kerber.

“Is that one even faster?” a surprised Witthöft asked when she was urged to enter the next sports car. The special amenities that top players often enjoy are still foreign to her. But she is enjoying these off-court responsibilities. More and more people ask something of the young woman who played herself from a ranking below 200 to No.74. She has to answer more questions. “But it’s not really too much,” Witthöft says, “I think you grow into it.”In Stuttgart she so routinely mastered her press conference after her first-round victory over Mona Barthel (7-5 6-3) that it looked like she had never done anything else in her whole life. She appeared reserved, polite, but quite witty and thoughtful. While the more-established pros position themselves in front of the sponsor wall, Witthöft carefree sits down on a bar stool.

“The transition to the WTA tour isn’t that big,” she said before her second match against the Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. Witthöft isn’t yet a regular customer on the main tour, she also plays the smaller tournaments of the lesser ITF tour. “You have to be able to perform everywhere,” Witthöft says.

The big courts, the big stage with lots of spectators doesn’t seem to impress her much. Even though everything is new and exciting for her she takes a relaxed approach. “If you engage it professionally,” Witthöft says you can play yourself up the rankings quite quickly. “Her game has no limits,” Barbara Rittner says. The national coach often acts as a hitting partner for Witthöft and accompanied her to Melbourne.

In the semifinals of Stuttgart she could meet her role model Maria Sharapova. “In the semifinal,” Carina Witthöft repeats and starts laughing out loud. That’s a little fast even for her even though she should be used to speed after her test drives with Andre Agassi.

Translated by Katja

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