By Steve Fogleman for Tennis Panorama
Citi Open Feature Interview: Sorana Cirstea
(July 31, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – Sometimes words alone cannot capture the emotions of a human being as adequately as seeing and hearing the subject.
This is one of those times.
Sorana Cirstea is one happy tennis player.
I caught up with her yesterday after a 7-5, 1-1 over Lesia Tsurenko by retirement. She’ll face Alison Riske in the second round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a spot in the quarters.
“I hope you don’t make me sing! I cannot sing!” she jokingly protested, as I handed her a microphone for the interview.
Sorana Cristea is so happy with her year so far and so excited to be in Washington for the first time that she comes across as one of the most genuine and well-balanced players I’ve ever met.
This is one of those times when I’m glad I’m about the only person who regularly shoots video interviews in the early rounds of the tournaments I attend. I know it’s more convenient to read a blog than watch a video on your Iphone or laptop. I mean, you might be at work or on a bus or watching a tennis match right now.
But please take time to hear Sorana’s infectious jubilance by watching the video at some point.
If you like Cirstea, you’ll like her even more. And if you don’t know anything about her, you’ll like her for the first time.
The 23-year-old Romanian is just off her new career high of #23 in the world. She has been in the late rounds of every other tournament I follow.
She’s only won one WTA singles title, and that was five year ago in Tashkent, but this year alone, she has made the semis at Pattaya and Stanford, the quarterfinals at Birmingham, and the Round of 16 in Charleston and Miami. She also made the third round at Roland Garros before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams.
And yet, it seems, no one in the English-speaking world can pronounce her name.
She even changed the pronunciation of Cirstea because non-Romanian speakers simply cannot pronounce it.
“However people can say it, as long as they get Sorana fine, that’s all good. I find it funny.
The funniest thing of all is when I go to grab a coffee. That’s always the worst place they spell my name. So for now on, I will be something like Bob or Michael!”
She’s definitely pleased with the results of her hard work on the circuit this year.
“It’s been a solid year. I’ve been quite consistent from tournament to tournament. I feel I am playing better and better from week to week. It’s nice knowing that when you put all that hard work in, you can see the results. I think that motivates. I’m just very excited and looking forward to what’s coming next.
I feel I’m ready. When I have a good day, I can beat anyone. I always say that the rankings show the truth. If I’m 28 right now, it means this is where I should be.”
This is her first time in Washington in any capacity. She’s thrilled with the beauty of the city and the friendliness of Citi Open staff.
“I’m very excited to be here for my first time in Washington. I’ve always wanted to come. It’s this thing about “The Capital”. I’ve been waiting 23 years to get here. As soon as I got in on Sunday night, we dropped our bags at the hotel and went to the White House.
There’s just so much history here. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to explore and be a tourist.”
I asked her if she might be a lawyer after her pro career concludes. She acknowledged that it might be too late to start schooling for such a job, and that she has some many interesting options after tennis.
“Once I have something in my mind, I try to put 100% in to make it.”
Of course, the reason I asked about a legal career was due to her brilliant closing arguments against bad calls in Stanford recently in a match with Dominkia Cibulkova. It was an argument she won, and won, and won, as the judges went her way six times in a single set.
“I think that’s more stubbornness!”, she joked. “Once I think I’m right, I usually go all the way. I knew I was right at that point. So I was really confident and I went for it. I have respect for the chair umpire and all the linesmen. The only reason why I argued is because I wanted that point. It was mine. I earned it. I’m one of those people where if something is mine, I won’t give it away.”I don’t know if about her stubbornness, but I am impressed with her fearlessness. She took a maiden sky-diving jump last year and loved it so much she had to do it again recently.
“I loved it. I always wanted to do it and never had the opportunity.The second time around was ten times better, because I actually knew what to expect. Everyone should jump at least once in their life. It’s an experience worth living. Don’t be surprised if you see me jumping again.”
And don’t be surprised if you see her hoisting a trophy and winning another WTA title or two before the year is out.