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The highlights of the year: US Open Finals and FED Cup

“It went very well, maybe even unexpectedly well,” said Anett Kontaveit, when looking back at her last tournament in 2012. But to be honest these words could describe her whole season.

Kontaveit’s final push for the year was supposed to be the WTA tournament, which was held in Moscow, where in the opening round of the qualifications she had to come to terms with the opponent being better.

“We decided to change my right hand hit a little bit. This will benefit me in the future as it will be easier to fend hard hits and will allow me to hit the ball harder as well. Because of this I cancelled all my tournaments before Australia as well as few 25 000 dollar ITF tournaments. At first I was supposed to receive a wild card for the Helsinki ITF tournament but we spoke to Allar Hind ( the head secretary of the Estonian Tennis Association ) that we do not wish to take it. Allar had sent them an e-mail but it seems that it wasn’t received,” explained Kontaveit how the season turned out to be longer. “On Monday I took a look at chart who was playing at the tournament and to my surprise I discovered my name there as well. This was very unexpected. On Tuesday morning I had a training session in Tallinn and in the afternoon I went to Helsinki. Luckily my first game was set on a Wednesday.”

Kontaveit became among the 8 best, beating the worlds 125th racquet Karin Knapp, who was one of the favourites to win. In the quarter finals Kontaveit had to surrender to the winner Amra Sadikovic.

“I didn’t set myself any goals or expect anything. I was already happy when I won the first round,” said Kontaveit. If you change anything, then it is natural that in the beginning it will take a while to get used to. And as my right hand was still a little unsure, I wasn’t expecting  how many right hand hits I will have at all. I was able to play very well, maybe even unexpectedly well.”

Kontaveit, who will turn 17 on Christmas Eve, took part in only 3 tournaments in her own age group. She set her goals more on the women’s tournaments and was able to win two 10 000 dollar prizes. One in Tallinn and the other one in Mexico. In Mexico she was also able to win the doubles. On top of that, on three occasions she was also able to get to the 25 000 dollar ITF tournament quarterfinals. At her first ever WTA tournament, she was able to get to the qualifications round, where she lost in a very even 3 set game to Annika Beck from Germany.

Kontaveit was very successful at the young Grand Slam tournaments and was moving upwards and only losing to the winner of the tournament. In Australia she had to surrender in the 3rd round, losing to Taylor Townsend from USA, in the French Open she lost to Beck in the semifinals and at Wimbledon she had to accept the defeat to Eugenie Bouchard in the semifinals. At the US Open she was able to get to the finals where she lost to Samantha Crawford from USA.

“I’m happy with the past year. The youth tournaments went well and I started playing very well in the 25 000 dollar tournaments,” said Kontaveit. “One of the best emotions was definitely the US Open finals but also my good performance at the Fed Cup.”

In the Federation Cup this year Estonia had to do without Kaia Kanepi and due to that, Kontaveit became our number one player. Firstly she had to defeat a very experienced Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who at the time was the worlds 50th player by 6:3, 6:1. After that she surprised everyone by defeating Austrian Tamira Paszeki, who at the time was the worlds 48th player by 6:4, 7:6 (3). In the last game with Holland, Kontaveit managed to win Bibiana Schaafs, who was the worlds 154th player by 4:6, 7:6, 6:1.

“When I went to play there I didn’t have high expectations. I just thought that it will be a great experience and that every game I win, will be a victory,” admitted Kontaveit. “I didn’t go to win the people I was able to win. I believe my advantage was that I played more freely and they had a lot of pressure on them.”

Even though Kontaveit’s wins were good but unfortunately the Estonian women players are going to play in the Euro-African zone 2nd group.

Kontaveit was very happy with her debut at the WTA in Copenhagen. “This showed that playing there is not impossible and passing the qualifications is not far. This gave me more motivation because I saw that playing there is not far in the future and that everything is possible.”

When Kontaveit listed the years best and positive emotions without thinking very hard, then she is the same with the negative emotions. “Wimbledon’s semifinals will be playing over in my mind as there was a lot of options in that game. There are other games I lost that I almost had and they still hurt. I also would have liked to win at the US Open but my opponent was better at the time.”

What did Kontaveit herself learn from the past year? “Definitely making sure to train even more and be more devoted to working out. One can’t compete the whole time but has to have a training season,” she said. “I have to keep my physical form at its best. My game did suffer a bit as I was competing the whole summer and this was not good as my form did drop. Competing all the time is not the best as physical form is very important and I do have to pay a lot of attention to it.”

Because of the above Kontaveit’s training plan was changed – she trains three times a day three days a week and on the other three days she trains twice a day. On her day off she goes for a run. “I have more work out sessions and we are also trying to make the training sessions more intensive.”

Kontaveit is training under the supervision of Märten Tamla. On the third week of November she flew to Florida for three weeks to the reputable Nick Bollettieri academy to train and get tips from the coaches at the academy. “More new ideas and tips,” smiled Kontaveit.

New season for Kontaveit starts in Australia with the youth tournament and after that she will be playing in two 25 000 dollar prize ITF tournaments.

“I would like to develop my skills the same way but my goal is to put more emphasis on women’s games. I would like to play more women’s tournaments and not so many junior ones,” said Kontaveit about her plans for the new season. “I am not sure if I will play all of the youth Grand Slam tournaments. I will definitely play the one in Australia but I have not decided on the other ones. I would like to get a break in the WTA.”

Kontaveit added that in Australia she will try to win the first place but if that does not happen, it will not make her play on other tournaments. “It doesn’t matter in that sense as I have played a lot of youth tournaments and to get to the semi-finals and finals is not bad result,” she said. “If I would win the youth Grand Slam it would not add much to my career. It will definitely be a great accomplishment but it is not as important as having a breakthrough in women’s league and I would like concentrate and set my main focus on that.”

US Open

US Open

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  • Author: Maarja Värv, Postimees
  • Date: 14.01.2013
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