Umpiring: Aurélie Tourte, a woman in the chair

Translation of this online article

Aurélie Tourte
Aurélie Tourte,  standing on the left, the most highly ranked French umpire when she got her Silver Badge in 2014, travels around the world at the beck and call of tournaments.

It wasn’t love at first sight between umpiring and Aurélie Tourte.

“Me, I liked playing tournaments or team matches for my club in Plaisir (the Yvelines),” she explains. “I discovered umpiring via the ITF Futures organised by TC Plaisir and during team matches. Without being completely seduced.”

Around 20 at the time, Aurélie was taken in hand by two umpires who give her the chance of umpiring in Deauville during the ATP Rennes Challenger. It was the turning point.

“I was able to see professional umpires at work, and it started to interest me. Gradually, encouraged by Maryvonne Ayale, President of the CRA (Regional Umpiring Commission) and the Yvelines League, I got taken with it and started passing my certificates.”

In 2014, Aurélie umpired for 26 weeks (Roland Garros, US Open, Monte Carlo,  ATP 250s, the WTA tour, ATP Challengers), which led to her being granted the Silver Badge in December of last year.

“I was proud about getting it, but it wasn’t necessarily a surprise, as I’d umpired quite a few matches and got good evaluations.”

In 2015, her programme up to June was just as busy: Feucherolles, a Fed Cup in Sweden,  then Marseille, Acapulco, Monterrey, a break in March, the Saint Breuc Challenger, Monte Carlo, Marrakech, Aix-en-Provence, Strasbourg (WTA) then Roland-Garros. The objective was straightforward: getting to know the Top Ten players of the WTA and ATP. “I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. So I need to learn to talk to them, to get ‘run in’.”

Temping as a nurse

Despite careful planning, expenses (travel, hotels, food sometimes covered) paid, Aurélie still hasn’t made the choice between professions. A nurse by training, she takes advantage of the shortages in French hospitals to work as a temp when umpiring gives her the time. Of course, in daily life, the travel isn’t easy to manage.

“Sure, my apartment is more of a furniture warehouse,” smiles the 31-year-old woman who still lives in Plaisir. “And as a woman it’s difficult fitting it into family life.  But now that I’m the highest ranked French woman, I’d like to see where it leads, as there have been only two French Gold Badge umpires in history (Anne Lasserre and Sandra de Jenken).”

Among the necessary qualities required she cites, randomly,  excellent sight, good communication with the players and the public, but also being able to make quick decisions. And especially a strong character. What’s not obvious: “Promoting women’s umpiring is complicate in France as it is elsewhere. You need to find your place in a man’s world. But you learn about yourself, you discover countries, people, ways of life. If you have a passion for it, you must grab on to it.”

This passion has allowed Aurélie to experience some big moments such as the 2012 Olympics, where she was a line umpire for the five finals, and being in the chair for the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros in in 2013.

 

Translated by Mark Nixon

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Interview with Alessandro Motti

Original: http://tennisportalen.se/alessandro-motti-i-oppenhjartig-intervju-med-tennisportalen/

The Italian doubles specialist Alessandro Motti was at the centre of controversy yesterday (Wednesday) when he and partner Albert Ramos were robbed of victory against Lindstedt /Brunström .  Alex Theodoridis from the Swedish tennis site Tennisportalen.se chats with Motti a day after the game.

Alessandro Motti is a 36 year old doubles specialist who is a regular face of the Challenger Tour, but who had sufficient ranking to get into the week’s doubles tournament in Båstad. Motti lined up with Spaniard Albert Ramos and the couple went out after a very questionable verdict in the final supertiebreak, where Motti afterwards could not understand how a judge could make such mistakes at the ATP level. We sat down in nearby café in the harbour just steps away from the center court.  Despite the disappointing loss from yesterday the Italian was in a good mood.

How is it that you played with Albert Ramos during this week’s tournament?

– Me and Albert know each other, and since my ranking made it possible to compete this week we talked and decided to play.

How is the process when finding doubles partners on the tour?

– We use WhatsApp, emails and social media. I have after many years on the tour bumped in into a lot of people and since I play a lot of the tournaments in Italy, I already know most of the players.

Motti turned pro in 2003 and during his 12-year-long career, has made a little over two million Swedish crowns – a salary that works out below the average cut of what a Swede earns in a month, and, when adding all expenses over the years on trips and hotels, the amount isn’t something to show off with.  Motti quickly becomes depressed when he describes the low prizes at the Challenger Tour.

– I am pleased that we have so many Challenger tournaments in Italy because I then travel by car and stay with acquaintances and thus save money. I also play a lot of national tournaments in both singles and doubles and it provides an extra income. Something must be done about the low prizes!

How often do you practice as a doubles player compared to single player?

– Really, it’s almost the same but in recent years I have been focusing less on tennis in the pre-season and more on taking care of my body in the gym – because it becomes more important the older I get.

How often do you think fixed matches on the challenger tour occur?

  • Sure there are, absolutely. It is a big problem on the Challenger circuit because of the low amounts of prize money and if they raise the amount in the future, we will find a solution to this problem. You have to understand why the problem occurs though, people do it to survive. It happens everywhere, look at football for example. Rich people do it to find new incomes.

A tennis player in Umag gets ten times more money if he loses in the first round compared to the Challenger tournament in Scheveningen this week, a frightful difference where the level of the players aren’t significantly different.

How is it that you mostly play doubles?

– I played a lot of singles earlier in the Futures tour and tried to regularly qualify in various Challengers but since my ranking rose fairly quickly in doubles and I started making money on it, I simply continued with it.

What can you tell us about Bolleli, Seppi and Fognini?

– Bolelli is more reserved and keeps mostly to himself. Seppi is a good friend of mine and we have known each other since we were young. A very nice and funny guy. Fognini is a bit younger and I do not know him so well but I know he’s a different person off the court.

Which players do you hang out with from the tour?

– Cipolla, Robert, Starace. I was very good friends with Di Mauro, Vagnozzi in the past but they are no longer competing at a professional level.

You met Enrico Becuzzi, a player that we have previously written about, in qualifying for the San Benedetto a few weeks ago. What was it like to play against him?

– (Laughs) Well, he’s wonderful. In training, he is good but the game unlocks it for him. He is not used to winning matches and does not know how he should act when things go bad. He is a very nice guy though, says Motti.

What do you think should be improved on the Challenger tour in the future?

– Hospitality for the players should be improved significantly – it has been improved in recent years but there is still opportunity for more.  Expenses need to be lessened for players to avoid such match-fixing, I mean, this is my job and I want to be able to have good conditions. I realize myself that Challenger players do not need to earn millions but still enough to be able to live a normal life. The pressure on the tour is very tough because you don’t want to lose in in the first round in a Challenger and thus not be making any money. I daily compete against players who are ranked within the top-150 in both single and doubles and the prize money in such a 250-tournament on the ATP level, where the level does not differ much from the Challenger, is striking. It’s not right. Something must be done.

Italy as a tennis nation has a bright future ahead with talented players like Matteo Donati (172), Gianluigi Quinzi (398), Stefano Napolitano (377) and Marco Cecchinato (99). Motti looks ahead at the bright future for the country in tennis.

– Donati is undoubtedly the one that has the most potential and he is also the one that is most consistent. Quinzi is very promising but he has had trouble finding the right coach and if he will only overcome the problem, it will end very well. Cecchinato is ranked within the top 100 today and is very talented.

Paolo Lorenzi is considered a living legend on the challenger tour, what have you to say about him?

(Laughs) – Paolo is a good friend of mine and he’s very professional with his tennis. He trains very hard every day and is a player who has improved a lot over the years. He is a smart player who constantly thinks out on the court. I like Paolo a lot.

“The umpire was afraid.”

The Italian was just a few measly points from the win with Albert Ramos against the all-Swedish couple Brunstrom / Lindstedt in the first round.  For a doubles specialist such as Motti, a win would mean a lot, not least financially when the prizes, as said, differ enormously on the ATP level as compared to the Challenger level where he is normally. Motti was mildly frustrated when he had the chance to describe yesterday’s situation.

– We have a ball as clear as day sitting on the line but the umpire chose to impose his call, despite all the players on the field agreeing that it is actually in. I didn’t know such mistakes occurred on the ATP tour. On the Futures and Challenger level, I can certainly understand it and some marks, regardless of level of umpires, can be very difficult to judge – but this was certainly not a mark in that category. The umpire was afraid during the match and felt the pressure. He was afraid to change the decision even though both Brunstrom and Lindstedt admitted afterwards that the mark was on the line. It should not be possible.

Motti traveled home to Italy a few hours after the interview was taking place for some well-needed rest and will compete at a challenger tournament in Biella next week. He lines up in the men’s doubles in Biella with Alessandro Giannessi.

Alessandro Motti suffered from food poisoning during the interview after he had eaten a pizza in the area the night before.  We are very thankful that he took the time to speak with us. A lovely man, Alessandro Motti.

~

Translation of his original interview by Alex Theodoridis from tennisportalen.se

Interview with Umpire James Keothavong

From an interview with chair umpire James Keothavong conducted by B92’s Saša Ozmo during the first round of Davis Cup in Serbia.  Brit Keothavong earned the ITF’s “gold badge” rating in 2010.

On officiating the 2014 Wimbledon final between Djoković and Federer.
“You know what, it was my first Wimbledon men’s singles final.  To be given that assignment is a great honor.  That the All England Club and the Grand Slam committee believe in my performance as a chair umpire—it’s great to have that feeling walking out on that court.  It was  fantastic: a classic five-set match between the two best players in the world, Novak and Roger.  It was about four hours and ended up being one of the greatest finals of all time.  For me to be part of that was a great feeling and an honor.”

On his impressions of Serbia.
“This is probably my fifth time here, all for tennis: Fed Cup and Davis Cup.  It’s great to be back.  The previous ties have been in Belgrade, so this is the first time we’ve actually experienced life outside the capital.  It’s slightly different, slightly smaller, Kraljevo [laughs; the city’s population is 70,000].  But it’s great for the federation to bring the tie here and promote tennis in this part of the country as well.  As you could see, it was a capacity crowd—everybody wanted to see Novak, of course, Viktor, and the Serbian team.  Overall, it was a great atmosphere.”

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had that much time to go on a tour—we’re here for four days and three of those days are for work.  But what we’ve seen so far has been really nice. . . . The people, above all, have been really warm and friendly to us, which makes our job worthwhile.  As you know, we get to see quite a bit of the world, we travel to many different countries, meet lots of different people; so, it’s great to come back to Serbia and have good memories.”

On working with “Hawk-Eye” & the challenge system.
“When it initially came out [in 2006], the chair umpires didn’t know what to expect.  But, over the years, we’ve all found a way of umpiring on a ‘Hawk-Eye’ court.  How I deal with it is that I pretend it’s not there; so, I step in when I have to, I overrule when I have to.  I think that’s the way officiating is going at the moment—all the top chair umpires are doing that.  It’s not just about calling the score or sitting there and not seeing anything.  I think it’s important that we still do our job, and we use ‘Hawk-Eye’ as a tool for officiating.  The players appreciate that and we appreciate it; but, at the same time, we still have to do what we have to do and not just rely on technology.”

“Obviously, when you sit up in that chair and things are going right, it can be the best seat in the house.  But when things start going wrong, it’s a lonely place.  There’s only you sitting up there.  Occasionally, you have players on your back—or, in Fed Cup and Davis Cup situations, captains on your back.  You know, that’s part and parcel of what we do.  If we make a wrong overrule, then we have to deal with it.  We’re human, just like the players—they make mistakes; umpires make mistakes.  But we try to keep those mistakes to a minimum.  The majority of the players now, they don’t really mind when we step in; and if we get it wrong by one or two millimeters, it’s not the end of the world.  I think they prefer us to officiate the match like that than not do anything.  I don’t think there are many mistakes made by the top chair umpires, but it’s a good officiating tool and we’re glad to have it.”

Did he refuse to shake Xavier Malisse’s hand in 2013?
“No, I have to say on record that it’s not true.  It was a misunderstanding.  It was a long match, and I shook the opponent’s hand, Garcia-Lopez, to the right-hand side and I didn’t realize that Xavier had offered his hand. Somebody got hold of it and made it news. . . . Touch wood, there hasn’t been too much controversy [in my matches].

On match fixing
“No, I haven’t had any connection, any communication, or noticed any players doing anything out of the ordinary.  So, I can’t comment on that….  You know more than I do.  To be honest, we have to do what we do—we concentrate on our matches—and whatever happens outside the matches is up to whoever decides [those matters].  But I’ve never been approached and I don’t know of any players who’ve been approached.  I haven’t umpired a match that’s had any sort of suspicion.”

On relations with players
“Let’s face it, we travel with the players week in, week out, and we see them at the tournament hotels.  As I said before, we’re human as well: it’s not us versus them.  But they have their teams, their entourage, and we have our colleagues.  It’s all civil: “Hello, how are you?”  The only thing we don’t do is go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with them.  It’s a professional set-up, as you would expect from organizations such as ITF, ATP, WTA.  We do our job, they do their job, and we like to keep it that way….  We don’t have friends or favorites—we treat the players equally.”

On his favorite tour destination
“I love Australia… You know, it’s winter over here in Europe during that time—the end of December, January—and it’s always cold.  Then you go to Australia and it’s right in the middle of their summer-time—it’s just great.  Straight after Christmas for us, we go over there and there’s sunshine, everyone’s happy, everyone’s wearing shorts and t-shirts, you can play tennis outside.  I couldn’t think of anything better.”

On officials’ salaries
“That’s the million-dollar question.  All I can say is that we don’t get paid enough.  You can write that” [laughs].

“I can be very tough on myself”: Interview with umpire Louise Engzell

“I can be very tough on myself”

From an interview by Johanna Jonsson on Tennis.se.

After the Swedish tennis miracle, a new blue and yellow has taken over the tennis world. In an interview, umpire Louise Engzell talks about the work behind the scenes on the international professional tennis tours. “We take a lot of crap sometimes,” she says.

Umpiring Grand Slam finals on the tennis world’s greatest scene was far from a childhood dream.  As a youth, Louise Engzell had her eyes opened to umpiring when, much against her will, she umpired matches at her home club of Sollentuna.

“We were forced to take a course when we were quite small, and that’s the way it went. I didn’t think much of it at all at the beginning. Later on we took another course and it began to be fun. We could take part in the Kalle Anka (the present SEB Next Generation Cup) in Båstad, start to travel a little and then take part in the Swedish Open and the Stockholm Open,” says the 34-year-old whose career starting point came after taking an Elite-level umpiring course.

No one needs to force her into the umpiring chair today. She said yes to going home to Sweden for the Davis Cup tie in Jönköping to work during her holidays.

“The best part of being an umpire is the challenge. You never know what awaits you when you go to work,” says Engzell, who has lived in Paris for the last few years.

What is the worst part?

“We take a lot of crap sometimes. But you learn and grow all the time. We talk a lot with our colleagues and bosses, we go through and analyse what you did or didn’t do and always try and better ourselves. Sometimes it isn’t even a mistake and there’s still an uproar.”

Scolded by Berdych

One good example was at last year’s US Open when she was yelled at by Tomas Berdych. The Czech exploded after a correct umpiring decision but said he was sorry on Twitter the day after. Only she knows what went through her head, as she won’t talk about particular situations or individual players. On the TV screen, she looks like a calm umpire in the chair—something which Engzell sees as one of her strengths.

“I can keep my cool without getting too stressed. I can read different personalities quite well and see how to tackle the different players and their personalities.”

Are you good at taking criticism?

“It’s something I can improve on. I can be very tough on myself, which can also be good. I get angry and it takes a while to get myself together. Especially if you’re not 100% sure if you could have explained things in a better way and had the match better under control. In those situations you can sit and ponder and think,” she says.

“Swedish umpires have become a thing on the tours”

Together with, among others, her fellow Swede Mohamed Lahyani and Lars Graff as well as a group of tournament officials of a high international level, Louise Engzell is part of Swedish umpiring elite.

“I don’t know why we have so many umpires. It’s actually become a thing on the tours—especially now, when we don’t have so many players at the top levels, but a lot of top umpires.”

The 34-year-old has umpired Grand Slam finals at the French Open and the US Open, as well as the Olympic final in London in 2012, but still thinks she has a ways to go to reach the status of fellow Swedes Lahyani and ex-umpire Graff.

“I’m on my way there. I haven’t been at the job that long yet. It takes many, many years to get the same respect. It’s very much about trust, that they can trust you. You can win a lot with trust. It means you can handle a match better.”

After the finals in Paris and New York, Engzell has two matches on her dream list.

“I’d like to do one final in all the different Grand Slam tournaments. So Wimbledon and the Australian Open are there.”

Louise Engzell on …

Hawkeye:

“It’s just positive. The advantage with Hawkeye is that it’s a final judgement. Whether the player agrees or not, there no one to complain to or yell at. They accept it and play goes on. It’s fantastic and makes things so much easier.”

Psychology in the umpiring chair:

“Different players react in different ways. Some players you need to be harder with right from the start, others you can use a softer approach with. Some players want you to tell them if they’re taking too long between points while others just want the warning directly. It’s about getting to know the players.”

Relations with the players:

“We have no relations with the players. Those are the rules. There can’t be any semblance of a reason to doubt your fairness because you’ve had dinner with a player. There cannot be any question. And you don’t, if at all possible, umpire a player from your own country. You try and avoid all problems that could possibly arise.”

Her best matches:

“The US Open final in 2012 between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. I think it was one of the longest women’s matches ever.”

“The Olympic final in London is a special memory. The atmosphere was fantastic even if the match was rather short. Serena won 6-0, 6-1 against Sharapova.”

“One of my best matches was the 2012 Davis Cup match between Romania and Finland. It was the deciding match and it took almost five hours. It was extremely close and tense, a really good atmosphere and ambiance. It doesn’t need to be top players playing each other, it can even be at a lower level. The atmosphere is one you can only get at a DC match.”

Her favourite tournament:

“I hadn’t been in Båstad for a very long time, so I was there this (last) year. It was really cool coming back to Sweden. I like the atmosphere, the mood; everyone’s equal and eat together no matter what their job is. Besides that, I like the Grand Slam tournaments a lot. Each one is different from the other.”

Translated from the Swedish by Mark Nixon.

Many thanks to Victoria Chiesa for the tip.

Andrea Petković on umpires, coaching situation and Fed Cup

Original source: Tennisnet – http://tennisnet.com/de/damen/fedcup/4675714/WTATour_Andrea-Petkovic-exklusiv-Da-muss-ich-jetzt-schon-auch

“I have to criticize the WTA there”

Miss Petković, the WTA tournament in Doha had a bitter end for you. What happened?

My opponent played very well. And I had injured my back a little bit.

You already were complaining about back pain the days before, but that had always gone away after on-court treatment. Did you go into the match injured or did it happen during the match?

No, it wasn’t injured going into the match. At the beginning, I think at 1-2 in the first set, I ran to a corner and then I just pulled my back.

What’s next for you now?

After flying home I will try to work with my physio to get a handle on things. After that Indian Wells is next. At least it’s a little break until then.

Before [the loss] you at least managed to score two wins against Kirsten Flipkens and Zarina Diyas – a revenge for the scandalous match from the previous week. How happy were you that this time, especially against Diyas, Hawkeye was available?

Ohh, very happy! (laughs) There were again a few close calls. I once again had the feeling that many things were ruled against me a couple of times when I served or returned really well on break point. She hits the ball out of the stadium, my ball gets incorrectly called out and then it’s “replay the point” and you have to start from the beginning. That was really annoying. But maybe I’m just imagining things when I go into a match paranoid like that. (laughs) You probably shouldn’t give much thought to what I’m telling you. (laughs)

What kind of impression do you have: are umpires not brave enough anymore and just rely on Hawkeye?

I have the impression that there a really big differences. There are really, really good umpires like Kader Nouni, Marija Cicak or Mohamed Lahyani. It has, I think, a lot to do with experience. They don’t care about Hawkeye, they call it how they see it. You believe them. And I think I have to criticize the WTA there. I thought it was really bad in Dubai that they put the best [umpires] on Center Court, where there is Hawkeye anyway, because it looks good on TV when the umpires perform well. There [on Center Court] all calls could be reversed at anytime. And on the outer courts they put some umpires that I have never seen before in my life. That means that, from the start, you have less trust in them than if Kader is sitting up there and says “It was out,” and you know, he has umpired 470 matches and he is probably right. He looks at you and says “Andrea, no discussions with me,” and then I just turn around and play on. It’s about the experience of the umpire, it has a lot to do with how he umpires a match. But that doesn’t excuse my hissy fit.

Do you regret that?

That just must not happen to me as a pro. There were many reasons. I was tired, I had just arrived from Antwerp, jet lag, whatever. But that must not happen. I was lucky that my racket didn’t hit anybody, it’s just inexcusable. But still, I think the good umpires should be on the courts where there is no Hawkeye – if they must have courts without it.

So you believe many umpires on outer courts are just in over their heads?

Exactly. Because I believe that out there they let the inexperienced ones just go at it, that’s the feeling I’m getting. Of course they have to make their experiences, but I question why they don’t let them do it on courts with Hawkeye. On one hand they have more pressure on these courts because the TV is there, there you have to prove yourself. On the other hand it doesn’t decide matches when they make mistakes, on Center Court the points get replayed. For me it decided the set, but it’s not just about me, but also in general. That’s my personal opinion about it.

Different topic: Eric van Harpen and you split in November. What does your coaching situation look like now? Here in Doha you were coached by Dirk Dier, who is also part of the Fed Cup and Davis Cup coaching staff. Is that more than an interim solution for you?

We will see. There’s a certain conflict of interest with Dirk, probably. If I’m playing another German he probably would have to sit somewhere else. So that’s why it is probably not the best solution, even though I really love working with him and I feel really with him during Fed Cup, too. He is a great coach and a great guy, so positive and nice. So that’s why I have to think about it after Doha. And then there also was Boric Conkic with me here. He initially started as hitting partner for me, but he has a great tennis brain and he sees a lot and he is really great. I want to keep him in my team. And if I could add an experienced personality, that would be great. But nothing has worked out so far. But I would like to keep Dirk on my side for some time. These two complement each other very well, they work together nicely.

Are you going to talk about this with your Fed Cup teammates and the captain, Barbara Rittner?

I have already asked Barbara, that goes without saying. I had already asked her before the tie against Australia, if she would be ok with it for the time while I don’t have anybody else, whether I could work with Dirk, whether that’d be problematic, what the others girls might say about it. Barbara said she will talk to them, not a problem, or I should talk to them. That’s what’s really great about the Fed Cup team, we are totally open with each other. I don’t know what they think to themselves (laughs), but everybody just said “Yeah, no problem at all.” And that was a big help for me, that he was in Doha with me, now that I’m lost.

The Fed Cup semifinal will be played in Sochi on clay. How do you like that?

I spoke with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday and she had already implied that it was going to be Sochi. I was really surprised, I was completely sure that we will play in Moscow. I don’t know why. I didn’t even think about other cities because I was so sure “Moscow, where else would they play?”. It’s a bit unfortunate for us because it’s another two hours further away and [the WTA tournament in] Stuttgart is right after it. But we are going to do it, no doubt. And luckily – that really relieves me – it is on clay, so we don’t have such a big change in Stuttgart. We’re gonna manage. It’s better than Australia. We’re slowly getting closer. (laughs)

There have been increased demands for a reform of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup. You can see with the men that barely any of the big stars are playing. Would you welcome change?

In general I always thought the format was ok. But I always though: Eight teams in the world group (in Fed Cup) is very small. We were in the final last year – and if we had lost to Australia we would playing to avoid relegation. That’s a little crazy. But what I also noticed because we were in the final for the first time: It’s really, really close to next year’s first round. And I had the feeling that we hadn’t processed the final yet. When I went out on the court and heard the national anthem last year’s final came back into my head. And yet we were back [on court] and had to fight for survival, to not be relegated. Barbara once said that she would like a world group with 14 teams and last year’s finalists get a first round BYE. I don’t know if that can be done, but I think that would be perfect and it sounded really, really reasonable when Barbara said it.

Without a doubt you are one of the more popular players on tour. It seems like almost all players like you and you seem to get along with almost everybody, too. Do you sometimes feel like the Roger Federer of women’s tennis?

Oh God, that’d be nice if I had half – no not even half, just one fifth of his successes! (laughs) I’d sign that in a heartbeat. But seriously: I have always been very uncomplicated. I grew up in a big family, always had many people, many children around me. I might have only one sister, but we are eight cousins. It was always obvious that we shared, that we try to achieve things together. And because of that I believe that, first of all, I really enojoy these team events. And second of all I don’t see a reason why, just because I want to beat someone on court, I have to be mean to them off the court.

Something many women on the WTA tour handle differently.

Everybody has to decide that for herself. I can differentiate that very well. I can give it my all on the court and I don’t even look to ther other side of the court. I don’t care who I am playing. I just play for myself, I desperately want to win. Even if I played someone who I really like, I can differentiate that, no matter if I won or lost. I’m really blessed with being able to differentiate that so well. If you can’t do that and you notice “I’m more nervous when I’m playing a friend”, then maybe you shouldn’t have friends on tour. It’s a professional sport where you have to make decisions like that.

Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza have recently – and they were not the first ones – denounced the lack of collegiality on tour. It seems like most players do their own thing and that there is a certain amount of cat fighting. Does that bother you too?

I have to say that because I get along with all of them pretty well – with Azarenka especially for example, we are very friendly with each other and chat during breakfast or whereever – I think that doesn’t affect me as much as it does others. I chat with everybody, with some I’m closer, with others not so close, but I’m ok with everybody, so it doesn’t concern me. Of course it’s a difficult sport. You have to be tough, you have to be able to take a lot on court, and that hardens you and makes you lonely. And I believe that goes hand in hand, because you then become harder and less sensitive yourself and try to seclude yourself. That affects the private life, too.

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Translated by Katja

Susanne Celik on her disqualification in Surprise

Celik on her punishment in Surprise: “I’m very sad.”
From an interview by Johanna Jonsson on Swedish site Tennis.se.
No, it wasn’t an outburst of rage.  A disappointed Susanne Celik tells us what happened when she was disqualified—after a framed shot. “They said that the ball hit a line judge on the next court,” says the 20 year old.

Susanne Celik’s match against Cici Bellis at the ITF tournament in Surprise, Arizona ended bizarrely.

A few games into the third set, the Swedish #3 was disqualified because she hit a ball that hit a line judge.

This is how Celik explains the event: “I just wanted to hit the balls over to her after the 2-1 game and I framed one of the balls at the same time as I turned around to pick up my towel.  I had no idea what was going on.  Then they said the ball hit a line judge on the next court where they were playing doubles.”

“It was pure bad luck—everyone who knows me knows it.”

On social media, there were rumours that Celik had hit the ball at a line judge out of sheer frustration.

“Even if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to hit a line judge on the other court just like that.  It was a mishap and those who know me know it.  I would never take out my anger at a line judge.  Good God.”

“The ball bounced and then went up to him.  He didn’t even get hurt,” says Celik.

How are you doing?

“It’s not great—that’s what I can say.  An entirely wrong story has come out about me, that I hit a ball towards an umpire, which is just sick.  It’s just sad and I’m very sad about this, too, obviously.”

Her opponent, Cici Bellis, celebrated: “The most unsportsmanlike thing I’ve seen.”

The umpire called in the tournament referee who immediately disqualified the Swede.

“After the supervisor came in, he took about 20 seconds to decide, without listening to my side, and said ‘The match is over; I’m not going to discuss it.'”

Her opponent’s reaction shocked Celik.

“Bellis screamed in joy with both hands up to the sky—some of the most unsportsmanlike conduct I’ve seen in my entire life.”

“Bellis herself fired a ball without any bouncing that hit a line judge on our court just 5 games earlier, and she only got a warning.  It’s just incredibly unfair.  I don’t understand anything.”

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Translation by Renestance.   Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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Note:  Another piece, this time by Stefan Holm, suggests that Celik sought a new meeting with the tournament supervisor to discuss the incident.  “I’ve spoken with the office in London and they say it’s odd that she (Bellis) wasn’t disqualified before I was punished.  It will be interesting to hear what she hast to say.”  Thanks to Christopher Levy for the alert.