Muzaffarnagar, India, ITF Womens Circuit, BHAVNA MEMORIAL, 25 000 USD, grass, outdoor: 1R, Tereza MIHALIKOVA (SVK) - Jennifer LUIKHAM (IND) 6-3 6-3, 2R: Zeel DESAI (IND) 7-6(7) 2-6 6-2, QF: Aleksandrina NAYDENOVA (BUL) [7] 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3, SF: Nastja KOLAR (SLO) 4-6 7-6(2) 7-5, F: Natalija KOSTIC (SRB)? -? , Doubles, 1R, MIHALIKOVA/Natalija KOSTIC (SRB)[1] - Prerna BHAMBRI (IND) / Rishika SUNKARA (IND) 6-2 6-4, QF: Aleksandrina NAYDENOVA (BUL) / Sarah-Rebecca SEKULIC (GER) 6-4 6-2, SF: Aldila SUTJIADI (INA) / Dan Ni WANG (CHN)  ?-?; Haifa, Israel, junior ITF, HAP International Junior Tournament, Grade 2, hard, outdoor: 1R, Doubles, Pavel SHUMEIKO (UKR)/Blu BAKER (GBR) [1] - BYE, 2R: Raz HAVIV (ISR) / Ori MAIOR (ISR) 7-6(3) 7-6(5), QF: Nicholas David IONEL (ROU) / Loris POURROY (FRA) [6] 6-1 4-6 [10-7], SF: Jerome KYM (SUI) / Gian Luca TANNER (SUI) 6-3 6-4, F: Martin BREYSACH (FRA) / Raphael PEROT (FRA) [8] ?-?; Meshref, Kuwait, ITF Futures, Kuwait F1 Futures, 15 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Ergi KIRKIN (TUR) - Michal DEMBEK (POL) 7-5 6-3, 2R: Roy Sarut DE VALK (NED) 4-6 6-3 4-6.

Muzaffarnagar, India, ITF Womens Circuit, BHAVNA MEMORIAL, 25 000 USD, grass, outdoor: 1R, Tereza MIHALIKOVA (SVK) - Jennifer LUIKHAM (IND) 6-3 6-3, 2R: Zeel DESAI (IND) 7-6(7) 2-6 6-2, QF: Aleksandrina NAYDENOVA (BUL) [7] 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3, SF: Nastja KOLAR (SLO) 4-6 7-6(2) 7-5, F: Natalija KOSTIC (SRB)? -? , Doubles, 1R, MIHALIKOVA/Natalija KOSTIC (SRB)[1] - Prerna BHAMBRI (IND) / Rishika SUNKARA (IND) 6-2 6-4, QF: Aleksandrina NAYDENOVA (BUL) / Sarah-Rebecca SEKULIC (GER) 6-4 6-2, SF: Aldila SUTJIADI (INA) / Dan Ni WANG (CHN)  ?-?; Haifa, Israel, junior ITF, HAP International Junior Tournament, Grade 2, hard, outdoor: 1R, Doubles, Pavel SHUMEIKO (UKR)/Blu BAKER (GBR) [1] - BYE, 2R: Raz HAVIV (ISR) / Ori MAIOR (ISR) 7-6(3) 7-6(5), QF: Nicholas David IONEL (ROU) / Loris POURROY (FRA) [6] 6-1 4-6 [10-7], SF: Jerome KYM (SUI) / Gian Luca TANNER (SUI) 6-3 6-4, F: Martin BREYSACH (FRA) / Raphael PEROT (FRA) [8] ?-?; Meshref, Kuwait, ITF Futures, Kuwait F1 Futures, 15 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Ergi KIRKIN (TUR) - Michal DEMBEK (POL) 7-5 6-3, 2R: Roy Sarut DE VALK (NED) 4-6 6-3 4-6.

The best Slovak Junior player Lenka Stara has really enjoyed her grand slam experience, she is looking forward to the women’s tournaments

Lenka Stara (18), a member of the EMPIRE Tennis Academy, and a trainee of the coach Martin Durdik, has just completed her last year in junior tennis. After taking part in Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open, where she had so many beautiful experiences, she is now getting ready to move to demanding women’s tennis. "For sure I want to get into WTA rankings and I would like to reach ranking position somewhere around number 500-600. That would be nice," says Lenka Stara in an interview for www.empire-tennis-academy.com

Why have you only recently decided to participate in the fitness training camp in Skalka?

"It related to my tournament plan for this season. First, there was a training camp in Skalka, and I am going to have a next one in High Tatras. I really liked the training in Skalka with our fitness coach Kristian Cupak, and there was a great team, and we were all working hard supporting each other. We had been here before; the last time we were here was three years ago. After that, there either wasn’t any training, or there was, but elsewhere."

How do you feel about the fitness training? Do you enjoy unwinding from tennis?

"Sure, this camp was my second week without playing tennis, it was really great. But after the session, the tennis preparation is beginning, so I’ll enjoy the hustle and bustle of tennis life again. Gradually, I’ll have to work more and more. But I have loved the fitness program, especially running up the hill. And other tennis players loved it too. It was great pleasure and fun."

How would you evaluate the tennis season 2018?

"I am really satisfied. At the beginning of this year, I wouldn’t have said I would play at three grand slam junior tournaments. We were also planning to finish with the junior tournaments. But I’ve been to a few grand slams, I’ve learnt some tips and tricks, and I have played. And I am very happy with my results."

What was the decisive moment, the reason why you decided to play junior tournaments? Was it the February triumph in the singles at the Grade 1 tournament in Kazan, Russia?

"Yes, exactly.  Before, I had the position near to the World Top 100 Junior ITF rankings. But then, because of this triumph in singles and semi-finals in doubles, I progressed to the position 49. Therefore, I got to the main draw of the junior Roland Garros. But then, we also added Wimbledon, and even though it had been questionable, finally I also went to US Open. Had I not won in Kazan, I would have rather played 15K women’s tournaments."

You have been on three grand slam tournaments. What has been the greatest experience for you?

"What I’ve enjoyed the most was Wimbledon. It was wonderful. Everything was so important and serious there. It was such a great experience to meet those tennis players, to have breakfast and lunch with them, or to train on the same spot they were training. It was unforgettable. I could see how much they were training, how hard they were working. But they have no personal life..."

Are you ready to give up on this?

"Yes, because I’ve also seen what can be achieved."

How do you feel about the cooperation with your EMPIRE Tennis Academy coach Martin Durdík?

"We have started our cooperation in March 2017. I’m not sure how he feels about me, but I am satisfied with him. (Smile) We might argue about some small things here and there, which is an inevitable part of every training process.  But we can really understand each other on and off the court. He knows how to communicate with me. We have found each other, it´s been a good match."

Can you think of certain match or situation of this season that you feel could have been better? Is there anything you regret?

"I regret the second round of the singles at US Open. There, I had a lucky draw, so I thought I would be able to advance further. And I didn’t, so I was sorry about it. But I can’t think of any other matches I would regret."

Have you discussed the types of women’s tournaments you would like to take part in? Have you talked about it with your coach?

"At the EMPIRE Tennis Academy, a group of young ladies will be formed, and we will travel together to the women’s tournaments. For example, we would like to travel to Egypt or Turkey and we would try to play on hard court.  We were also considering travelling by the end of 2018, but I’m afraid I can´t, because of the school. I’m in the last year of my studies and I am planning to spend more time at school."

This year, you are going to finish your secondary school and you are taking your school-leaving exams. Which subjects are you going to take?

"English and Slovak language are compulsory. Then, I have opted for biology, I don’t know why. (Smile) Then, there are the basics of the sport preparation, as I am studying at the sport secondary school. I have been struggling with my studies for a long time. Even at the training camp, I keep revising for my exams. Others just look at me, checking if I am OK. (Laughter)  I’m going to take the written part of my exam in March 2019, and in May, I’m taking the oral exam."

When I talk to you in a year, at the end of the season 2019, what would you like to have achieved? What kind of results?

"I’m sure I want to get a position in the WTA rankings, and I would like to get somewhere between 500th and 600th position. That would be nice."

What will be the hardest thing about moving from juniors to women? What do you have to improve?

"Sure, I need to improve my play, and I’ll have to work on my strategies on the court. I’m a kind of person who’s rushing into things, and then I’m making unnecessary mistakes on the court. And women make much less mistakes than juniors. That’s the most important difference. And I have to say I’m really looking forward to women’s tournaments, it will be very different. And that’s great, as the junior matches had become a bit boring for me recently."

What does your coach say about this? What is his advice?

"First of all, he’s pushing me to reduce my mistakes during the matches. It can be improved, but with my style of game, it is really difficult. Still, I have to reduce my mistakes as much as possible. It’s the only way. As I mentioned before, women do not make such careless mistakes. We are both working on this."

Apart from new season and the women’s tournaments, I guess you are also looking excited about a new building for the international EMPIRE Tennis Academy. Part of this is already available.

“It’s amazing, I’ve see the whole place. It’s so large and really great. When the place gets slowly filled with more players and we use it up to its fullest, that will be great."

After completing the current season, you took part in an event of the non-governmental organization “Zamierene na talenty” (Focused on the talented ones.) The main representative of this NGO supporting young, talented sport players is an Olympic medalist Danka Bartekova. What was this event about?

"This is the fourth year I have been the part of this NGO.  The organization has been established by Danka and a canoe sprinter Martina Kohlova.  Until now, they had been helping us with financial donations to support our sport careers.  But this year, they have organized a five-day long training program. And it was not only about sports. We also had a lot of relax, motivation workshops, discussion with a psychologist, there were also dietary consultants and we had lectures given by Olympic medalists. I really appreciated it, more than financial donations we had been receiving before.  I am still grateful for financial support, of course. But I really liked this event, thank you, ladies."

Which lecture did you like the most?

"I really liked listening to Danka Bartekova presenting her career and her current activities. We were all staring at her with our mouths open. We just wanted to keep listening to her forever. There were also great lectures give by the former professional sport players, such as Richard Lintner, Juraj Mincik, Juraj Baca... They were working so hard and back then, they didn’t have the opportunities we have today. Today, we have so many people to support us, and it’s much easier because of that. It was very interesting. I’ll be very happy if the event happens again, next year. I would really love to attend the event again."

Photos by: 
Milan Hutera, www.empire-tennis-academy.com
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