Alexandra Stevenson

Viktoriya Kutuzova – A beauty with tennis brains

I have something special for this post. It’s a photosession that I have long had in my possession but I have never uploaded or written anything about it. Yes, shame on me.  The special photoseries was shot by Ralf Reinecke. The brilliant photographer asked Viktoriya Kutuzova to be her model and a model she is.

Here is some Wikipedia info on the Ukrainian bombshell.

Viktoriya Kutuzova (Ukrainian: Вікторія Кутузова, born August 19, 1988 in Odessa, Ukraine) is a female tennis player from Ukraine.

On November 28, 2005, Kutuzova reached her highest singles ranking, World No. 76.

Kutuzova remains most notable for her results as a 14 year old. In her debut WTA maindraw event, the Tier II event in Los Angeles 2003, Kutuzova beat top 50 player, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, in the 1st round, and top 30 player, Alexandra Stevenson in her next match, before losing in the 3rd round to the then world number 12, Ai Sugiyama.

Other career highlights in WTA main draw events include, a 4th round appearance at the Tier I event in Indian Wells 2005, eventually losing to then number 1, Lindsay Davenport. Kutuzova has also made the 2nd round at three of the four grand slam events on the WTA tour.

As a junior Kutuzova reached the final of the Australian Open in 2003 losing to Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová.

Kutuzova has experienced considerable success at an ITF level. Kutuzova has won four French ITF events. In 2008, Kutuzova won her biggest ITF title to date in Cagnes-Sur-Mer. Her other titles have come in Poitiers(2005) and Deauville(2005/6). In 2009, she reached the final of the $100.000 ITF event in Torhout, losing to Croatia’s Karolina Šprem in straight-sets.

Viktoriya has suffered some shoulder problems throughout her young career which have stalled her progression on the main WTA tour.

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AUSSIE OPEN WOMEN’S QUALIFYING 2010

The women’s qualifying draw packs more heat than on the men’s side for one main reason: Yanina Wickmayer. Despite being ranked 16th in the world, the Belgian is being forced to grind it out through three qualifying matches in order to secure a spot in the main draw.

Wickmayer was suspended by the Flemish Anti-Doping Tribunal in her home country in early November for apparently failing to report her whereabouts at certain times during the season.

The twenty year old rising star appealed the decision and had it overturned by a civil court in Belgium. Unfortunately for Wickmayer the new ruling came after the December 7th cut-off date for entries into the Australian Open.

That left Wickmayer with the option of applying for a wild-card from the tournament, but when it was not extended, it left her with no other option but going through the qualifying draw.

It’s disappointing that such a talented player is being forced to jump through hoops in order to qualify for the main draw. While I certainly feel that Wickmayer will make it through the qualies, it will place a greater physical strain on her body ahead of an already grueling Grand Slam schedule. Hopefully it will instead serve as a motivator for her and help her gain some momentum for a memorable tournament. She is obviously seeded number one in the qualifying draw and won a tough opening match on Thursday by a score of 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

Aside from Wickmayer, the qualifying draw has a few other players worth following.

Alexandra Stevenson will best be remembered for her surprising run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon as a qualifier in 1999. That was a long time ago and Stevenson never built upon that success. Several injuries would creep up in 2002 and slow her progress and then a right-shoulder injury would derail her career at the end of 2004 and cause her ranking to plummet. Stevenson has been back to playing a full schedule for a couple of years now, but has not been able to regularly make it past qualifying draws and challenger-level tournaments.

Fifteen year old Laura Robson teamed up with Andy Murray at the Hopman Cup earlier this month and acquitted herself quite well. Born in Australia (Melbourne in fact) but playing for Great Britain, Robson lost to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets in the first round of Wimbledon last year, her first appearance at a Grand Slam. The youngster will turn sixteen during the Aussie Open and represents the future of female tennis in the U.K.

Canadians: I have to give a shout-out to the numerous Canadian women who are represented in the qualifying draw in Melbourne this year including, Valerie Tetreault, Heidi El Tabakh, Rebecca Marino and Sharon Fichman. Our country does not have much representation in the upper rankings of the tennis world, but these ladies are showing that Tennis Canada does have some talent in the mix just below the surface.

Molik, Heather Watson Aspiring For Greater Heights: Tennis in the Commonwealth

By Leigh Sanders

*Former world No. 8, Australia’s Alicia Molik, reached the final of the Cliffs Esperance Tennis International Pro Tour event before finally being derailed by top seed Olivia Rogowska. It was her fourth pro tour final since coming out of retirement in September. In the men’s final, Aussie Matt Ebden overcame John Millman 6-3, 6-4.

*British tennis starlet Heather Watson of Guernsey was eliminated in the first round of the singles at the Tevlin Challenger Event at the Rexall Centre in Toronto. She was defeated by1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson 2-6, 4-6. In the doubles, Watson and partner Julia Boserup lost to the Canadian duo Gabriela Dobrowski and Rebecca Marino. Despite her early exit in Toronto, Watson has made the final three in the running for the 2009 BBC Young Sport’s Personality of the Year award. The acclaimed accolade honours sportsmen and women who achieve sporting heroics in the calendar year and the Young Personality award goes to up and coming stars of the future. The US Open junior girls champion faces stiff competition from world driving champion Tom Daly and double world youth sprint gold medallist Jodie Williams. Andy Murray picked up the award in 2004.

*The prestigious Queens Club in England was celebrating a coup this week after US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro committed himself to the pre-Wimbledon tournament until 2012 in a bid to improve his grass court game for Wimbledon. Andy Murray picked up his first grass-court title by winning at Queens this summer before losing a heartbreaking semifinal at Wimbledon to American Andy Roddick.

*French Open Champion and WTA No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova has confirmed she will begin her 2010 season at the Medibank International Sydney, Australia, following Serena Williams, defending champion Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in doing so. On the men’s side, home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils and Marcos Bagdhatis are already confirmed. The event takes place at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre from Sunday 10 to Saturday 16 January 2010.

*While over in Brisbane, Australia, Nadia Petrova has added her name to an already impressive cast at the Brisbane International warming themselves up for the 2010 Australian Open. The world No. 20 in singles and 16 in doubles joins Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokic in what should be a tasty event. On the men’s side, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, James Blake and Giles Simon have pencilled in the event for their early 2010 schedule.

*This week’s ATP World Tour singles rankings saw no movement in the world’s Top 40 players. Australia’s Peter Luczak climbs a place to 78 while compatriot Carsten Ball does the same to 137 and Chris Guccione in 139. India’s Somdev Devvarman drops two to 124 and Frank Dancevic of Canada drops 12 to 144.

*In the ATP doubles rankings, all the Commonwealth players in the Top 10 were safe as there was no movement. However, Australia’s Ashley Fisher climbed two places to 41 and his compatriot Carsten Ball dropped four to 61 and Chris Guccione dropped one to 67. Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi climbed up one to 59 and Jeff Coetzee of South Africa dropped a place to 69.

*British Paralympic Champion Peter Norfolk took the world No. 1 slot by regaining his quad singles title at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. He beat the American world No. 1 David Wagner 6-2, 7-5 in the final to leapfrog him in the rankings. Norfolk had already beaten Wagner in the pool stage as well as Paralympic silver medallist Johan Andersson.

* Canadian duo Maureen Drake and Marianne Jodoin defeated compatriots Sharon Fichman and American Mashona Washington after world No. 97 Fichman was forced to retire when 3-2 up in the first set. It is the third year in a row an all-Canadian team has triumphed at the event.

*British women’s’ No. 2 Elena Baltacha has bounced back from injury to glide through the first round of the $75k event in Toyota, Japan. She beat the Japanese player Misaki Doi 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1 and will face Korea’s So-Jung Kim in the next round. Meanwhile, at the €106.5k ATP Challenger Event in Helsinki, Finland, Alex Bogdanovic saw first round defeat after going down 6-7(0), 4-6 to Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli.

*Slovak-born Jarmila Groth has been granted Australian citizenship following a ceremony at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Up to now, she has been unable to represent her adopted homeland other than in the four Grand Slam events but she is now cleared to play Fed Cup and play under the Australian flag in all other events on the WTA Tour. Earlier this year, she married fellow tennis pro Sam Groth and reached a career-high No. 57 on the WTA rankings. She has formerly represented Slovakia in the Fed Cup in 2003 and her best tour result to date is a semifinal at the Japan Open in 2008.

*The well-loved British tennis commentator Max Robertson has sadly passed away aged 94 on his home island of Guernsey. After serving in World War II he joined the BBC in 1946 and his post-war tennis commentaries live long in the memory of those who were guided through the action by Robertson. As well as tennis, he was the first reporter at the 1948 Winter Olympics in Switzerland as well as gaining fame away from sport on BBC’s famed investigative journalist program ‘Panorama’ and the antiques programme ‘Going for a Song.’ He was also an accomplished author and poet.

*Tennis Canada has announced that the recently retired Frederic Niemayer has been added to their coaching team to coach hot Canadian prospect Milos Raonic. In another coup for the organization, an announcement has been made that the Tennis Matters benefactors Mike and Nicole Tevlin have made a second $500,000 pledge. A new event named the Tevlin Open will now be held in their honour.

Stevenson Falters In US Open Comeback Bid

At the end of last year, Alexandra Stevenson proclaimed that she still has the game to crack the top 5 and, most importantly, win a Grand Slam tournament.

She’ll have to wait until next season to get that chance again.

Hampered by a low-service percentage throughout the match, and a shoulder injury late in the third set, Stevenson fell to 0-9 at the US Open as she lost to Chin-Wei Chan, of Chinese Taipei, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the 2008 US Open qualifying tournament.

Despite possessing ample strength from the baseline, Stevenson, 27, found herself playing defensive tennis against the diminutive Chan, often seeming to be overpowered by someone who lacked power on their ground strokes. Despite not possessing a weapon, Chan’s impressive tactical play and sound volleys gave her an early break in the first set.

After trading service holds for the rest of the set, Stevenson began to take control of the long baseline rallies and move Chan around the court. She broke Chan while trailing 4-5 and then broke her to clinch the first set.

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As the second set progressed, Stevenson’s first serve percentage dropped as her serves became increasingly softer. Chan took advantage of a clearly ailing Stevenson by punishing her weak serves and frequently moving forward to the net. Chan won six straight games in taking the second set 6-3, and storming to a 3-0 lead in the third set.

After taking a medical timeout for treatment on her right shoulder, Stevenson changed up her approach and began giving herself extra margin on her shots by hitting the ball down the middle of the court. Chan began to get tight in the later stages of the third set, failing to serve out the match as Stevenson leveled the final set at 5-5.

With the match nearing three hours, fitness became the deciding factor in the match as Stevenson was unable to maintain her foot speed in the New York summer heat. After failing to capitalize on two break point opportunities to serve out the match, a dejected Stevenson was broken at love, sending Chan into a second round qualifying match against No. 11 seed Yaroslava Shvedova, of Kazhakstan.

Stevenson burst onto the scene in 1999, reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon as a qualifier. She achieved a career-high ranking of No. 18 in 2002. Shoulder problems and surgery have slowed her progress since 2005.