2014/10/31

Anne Keothavong to Retire From Tennis

 

Anne Keothavong photo © Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

Anne Keothavong photo © Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

(July 24, 2013) Former British No. 1 Anne Keothavong announced that she is retire from tennis. The 29-year-old reached a career high rank of 48 in the world in 2009. She is set to join BT Sport’s tennis coverage team later this year.

 

She captured a total of 20 International Tennis Federation (ITF) singles titles, eight ITF doubles titles and made seven WTA semi-final appearances.

 

“I have given my decision a lot of thought and I believe this is the right time to move on to the next stage of my career,” Keothavong said in a press release. “I have had some magical moments along the way and I would like to thank my family for their unwavering support and encouragement, the LTA for their fantastic backing, my coach Jeremy Bates and also Nigel Sears who have both been very influential in my tennis career and of course, the great tennis fans in Britain and all over the world.

 

“I think I am leaving tennis in excellent shape with both Laura Robson and Heather Watson leading the way for Britain in the women’s game. I am now focussing on my exciting new challenge with BT Sport where I hope I can provide insight and analysis for tennis fans.”

 

 

Britain’s Federation Cup Captain Judy Murray said: “It’s been a real pleasure for me to work with Anne as part of the Fed Cup team. You couldn’t ask for a better, more committed team member – a great professional who represented her country with huge pride and passion. She’s a fabulous role model for the young players and a lot of fun too. I’ll miss her fashion advice as well as her presence but I’m sure she has a very bright future ahead of her.”

 

Keothavong will join Lynsey Hipgrave, former British Number One Sam Smith and tennis legend Martina Navratilova to cover the 21 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournaments for BT Sport including the five Premier WTA tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and Istanbul.

 

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British Tennis is Completely Different From 10 Years Ago, Says Keothavong

 

 

By Barbara Galiza

(March 2, 2013) FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil –With the recent successes of Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Heather Watson, it’s safe to say tennis in Britain is in a great phase. Londoner Anne Keothavong, professional since 2001, says things have come a long way in terms of support for the players.

 

“When I was Laura and Heather’s age, I didn’t have what they have. I had to travel by myself. We didn’t have a national tennis center. Now, 18-year-old players, and juniors, have coaches and a team that accompanies them on tour. With the access you get, there’s no excuse for players today”, said Keothavong on the recent change. “They’re very well supported. Being British, we are in a very lucky position. They are definitely investing more. It’s completely different now than it was 10 years ago.”

 

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), responsible for tennis in the country, and private sponsors, such as AEGON, aid the players on tour. The profit made from Wimbledon is directed to the LTA and invested in the future generation. Last year, nearly 30 million pounds from that money was used on player development and encouraging people to take up the sport.

 

“Sport in general is in a good phase in Britain. In the Olympics, it was amazing to see the whole country coming together and supporting the athletes. Whenever I had the time, I would go and watch other events, outside the tennis”, said the Brit, who played doubles and singles on the London 2012 games. “Andy (Murray) is doing very well under the pressure. Hopefully what he’s done will inspire the new generation.”

 

After making the top 50 in 2009, Keothavong is currently ranked 183th in the world.

 

“My ranking right now is not where I’d like to be, I’ve had a lot of injuries”, said the 29 year-old after losing the first round in Florianópolis to the seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic, 6/3 6/4.

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro and was covering the WTA tennis tournament in  Florianópolis, Brazil as media in  for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis
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Kick on for Queen and Country

For most years the success (or otherwise) of Britain’s tennis players rises to the top of people’s priority for the last week in June and the first week in July.

Then for the non-tennis following public, the hub-bub simply disappears and remains perhaps a footnote on the odd national news sports bulletin.

But this year something strange happened.

Perhaps due to the Jubilee, or the forthcoming Olympics, but the news of five people into the second round was a cause for a decent cream tea and perhaps a cheeky Pimms.

Even where players fell at the first hurdle, there were hard fought battles with higher raked opponents being pushed hard, step forward plucky fighters Jamie Baker and Laura Robson, giving former Slam champions Andy Roddick and Francesca Schiavone more than just a routine practice.

But Slam progression is just one match at a time, and the second round saw the numbers dwindle sharply.

Andy Murray needed to harness physical and mental strength to withstand the bombardment of 130 mph+ missiles from big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, winning 7-5 6-7(7), 6-2 7-6(7).

In a match where it was unlikely he would gather much rhythm, and was at times surprised by Karlovic’s nimbleness at the net, Murray prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak which left many fans fingers gnawed to the bone.

Heather Watson has impressed everyone this year with the apparent ease of her first two victories, and faces a real test against the world number 3 Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round.

Yet there still could be a good chance for her, if her self-belief continues.

Maybe the key to her success this year has been a willingness to change her approach.

After her second round victory against USA’s Jamie Hampton, 6-1, 6-4, she acknowledged that making some changes was a way to move herself up a level.

Watson said:”I’ve been known as kind of a counter‑puncher, good at moving and reading the game well, and I wanted to get to the next step, improve my game.

“I’ve been working with my coach at being more aggressive, coming to the net.

“I can volley.  I love to volley.  Probably volleyed once today and missed it.

“I’ve been working on being more aggressive.  And especially on the grass, you have to be.”

James Ward had a real chance to push his way past Mardy Fish, and battled through a tough fifth set decider, before Fish’s experience got the better of him.

After his great run at Queens last year, and already having come through a five-setter to get to the second round, the crowd on Court 1 stood to give Ward an ovation at the end of the match.

Ward said “It was nice of Mardy, as well.  He said the standing ovation was for me, so go out and enjoy it.  It was nice.  I appreciate it.”

Elena Baltacha pushed the 2011 Champion Petra Kvitova more in the second set, but sadly lost 0-6. 4-6.

However, Baltacha remained fairly pragmatic.

“I just kind of wish the second set was the first set, and then who knows what could have happened.  She played absolutely unbelievable,” she said, “she’s a very classy player.”

And of course being awarded an ITF wildcard, Baltacha will return for the Olympics

After years of injuries and an illness that almost put paid to her career, she could be forgiven for allowing retirement to cross her mind.

“I think if I still really enjoy it, if I still believe I’m improving and I still love it, then I’ll carry on.  But I’m literally going on a week‑to‑week basis.  I don’t put any pressure on myself.”

Anne Keothavong had perhaps more chances against French Open finalist Sara Errani, but succumbed 4-6, 4-6.

She admitted that she had her chances, and simply didn’t take those opportunities.

Keothavong said: “I’m disappointed with my own performance because I know I can play better.  I didn’t challenge her today as much as I would have liked.

“To lose in that fashion, you know, it’s not particularly pleasing.”

Like Baltacha, she will be returning to SW19 for the Olympics, also having been awarded a wildcard.

In between, she is looking ahead to the US swing.

“Had I not been on the Olympic team I would have camped out there until the US Open.  But I think the gap’s just too long from now until the Olympics.”

As with Baltacha, the question of retirement was also put to her.

“I have been around for a while, but there are girls older than me who are still out there winning slams and doing really well.

“That keeps me motivated.  You know, as long as I’m still enjoying it and as long as I’m fit and healthy, there are worse ways to make a living.”

It is strange to use the words “putting Murray aside”, but the real question is can these players now kick on and achieve more success as we gear up first for the Olympics, and then the US Open.

Where once cynics would complain about our Brits “crashing out”, there does appear to be some optimism.

Is there a sense of optimism in 2012 and a stirring of national pride in our tennis players?

And more importantly, with the US Open still to come in the tennis calendar, is now the time for the top British players to use this sense of optimism to “kick on” for Queen and country, and perhaps reach their full potential?

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT Journalist by day, a Sports journalist part-time and her match observations can be found at the Chalkdust Chronicles (chalkdustchronicles.blogspot.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

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Murray Leads Five Brits into Second Round at Wimbledon

It was a momentous day for Britons at Wimbledon on Tuesday, as Andy Murray found himself in the rare position of having four other Brits alongside him for the second round.

A very business-like Murray perhaps silenced some of his detractors since the end of his clay campaign and early exits at both Queens Club and the exhibition event at The Boodles.

He dominated his match against Nikolay Davydenko, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.

Murray said: “I played well.

“Once I got ahead of him, I wanted to make sure I didn’t let him back in.”

Although it has been a while since Davydenko has been in his ATP World Tour Final winning form of 2009, Murray was quick to acknowledge that this match-up might not be a walk in Wimbledon’s Aorangi Park.

“He’s very, very dangerous.

“He’s a very good returner as well.

“I needed to stay concentrated on my serve, and I did it well.”

There had been some speculation as to the success of his coaching relationship with eight-time Slam Champion Ivan Lendl, after his quarter-final exit from the French Open, and first round exits at Queen’s Club and The Boodles exhibition event.

Murray said: “I never saw him play when I was a kid.  I’ve only seen him play since I got older.

“He was obviously a great player, very ruthless, one of the best players that ever played.

“I’m glad to have him working with me.”

In the past Murray has been drawn on his view on the success of his compatriots, especially if they crash out in the first round.

But in this Olympic year, he is joined in the second round currently by James Ward, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson who booked her place in the Centre Court dusk on Monday night.

“Anytime the Brits do well in slams it’s good for British tennis.

“It’s been a good tournament so far, and hopefully it continues.”

For Baltacha, it was a gritty match, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 with Karin Knapp getting the better of her in the first set.

A bad slip saw Knapp injure herself at the start of the second start, allowing Baltacha back in.

Baltacha said: “I played well and I fought, and I was very, very delighted to have won that and to come through that being a set down.

British Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray gave her the Olympic news at the end of the match, and emotions were flowing freely for the both of them.

“I was very, very emotional at the end, especially with Judy.  She told me that I got the wildcard for the Olympics.”

“I’m glad no one told me before, to be honest, because I would have been all over the place.

“But, yeah, it was just amazing news.  I think that’s why we both just started crying our eyes out.”

It looked initially like Laura Robson would be starting the British-second-round-roll taking the first set from an injury-troubled Francesca Schiavone who had to take an extended medical time out.

She took the 2010 French Open champion to three sets, losing 6-3, 4-6, 4-6.

Robson said: “I’m really disappointed actually.

“I thought I was in control of it, and then just made a few mistakes and let her get back into the match.

“She’s a Grand Slam champion.  She took advantage of that completely.”

James Ward came through a tough five-setter staying positive despite being a break down in the fifth set, beating Pablo Andujar 4-6, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Ward said: “I always knew if I kept to my own serve and I started serving a bit smarter and towards the end of the match, because he was returning really well off his backhand, so I mixed it up, bit more body and forehand, and then got a few more free points.

“I knew I had it in the tank, and I knew if I kept carried on going I’d get a few chances, and in the end it worked out.”

However, there was a little disappointment for Ward, as he missed the Olympic cut.

“Of course it’s disappointing.

“It would have been great to be playing the home Olympics in London.  It’s once in a lifetime really.

“And being from London and obviously now playing well at Wimbledon, it would have been great to play again here again in a few weeks’ time.

“But it’s not to be.  My ranking is not where it is.”

Along with Murray, Anne Keothavong won her match on straight sets, beating Laura Pous-Tio 6-3, 6-3.

She said: “The win today was good.  I think I made it a little difficult for myself out there.

“But I felt like I settled into the match well eventually, and I never really felt I was going to lose the match.”

Keothavong found out about her place in the British Olympic team just before starting play.

“Just to have that confirmation, it’s just something I’ve always dreamt about, you know, something I’ve worked hard towards, and I’m just so proud to say I can be representing Great Britain at the Olympics this year.”

Great Britain will have eight players in the Olympic Tennis tournament.

Wildcards went to Keothavong and Baltacha for the women’s singles, with Robson and Watson teaming up in the doubles.

Murray qualifies by right for the men’s singles, and will team up with older brother Jamie for the doubles, along with the regular tour pairing of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.

The Mixed Doubles line up is yet to be announced.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

 

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