2012 @CitiOpen Interview: @IrinaFalconi with Coach Jeff Wilson

2012 CitiOpen Interview: Irina Falconi and Coach Jeff Wilson
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com

Jeff Wilson is an accomplished coach who has done a lot for former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and Tennis East Coast  favorite Irina Falconi. Less than a week ago, he took veteran South African player Chanelle Scheepers under his wing as well.

The most striking part of the interview is how much Irina has changed over the last year. Though she may sound ebulliently youthful on her WTA blog, The Eyes of Irina, she has grown so much since last summer at the Inaugural CitiOpen at College Park. The eyes of the world were on her at the US Open and she’s become an all-around veteran at managing media. Here’s Jeff and Irina on focus, training and Scheepers.

It seems like you learn so much in the first two sets with your new doubles partner that by the time you get to the superbreaker, it’s already over.

My partner and I definitely come out aggressive and know what our intention is. We know our game plan in the third set. We like to play under pressure a little bit, when it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

What about that crazy scoreline against Melanie Oudin where you two got bageled in the first set, then went on to win 10-1 in the breaker?

Honestly, I think they came out firing and we weren’t full gear and ready to go just yet. Once we got Jeff out there, he told us the game plan. It was just a matter of executing.

Have you learned a thing or two from your veteran partner Scheepers?

Very much so. Not only on the court but off the court, what she does with her food, fitness and stretching, she’s taught me all that.

Jeff, you’ve been coaching Chanelle Scheepers for how long now?

(checks watch) Since Sunday. Five days now.

What’s your summer itinerary, Irina?

I’m going to Montreal, hopefully take a week off, then Dallas and the US Open.

What changes have you made since I last saw you in Charleston, Coach?

Irina’s been on the road straight since mid-April. She was in Europe for 11 weeks with out a break, so we haven’t had much time to invest. We’re looking for some pockets in the schedule so we can rest her body. It will be a good opportunity to give her body a break. She’s extremely healthy because of the way she takes care of her body. The way she stretches, the way she prepares, the way she eats. We haven’t been able to invest in changes per se, other than the usual clay court to grass, and grass to hard court mentality. We’re looking forward to giving her a bit of a breather from having to wake up and doing all that.

Irina, All that blogging. How do you do it?

On my Ipad…

Your blogging has proved that you have a future in communications. Do you see yourself as a commentator some day?

For sure. I could definitely do that.

I’ve definitely experienced the heat. We”re staying at an absolutely great hotel. It’s difficult with the time being so late with the matches, but I’ve loved it so far.

How’d you like that rooftop bar at the old Hotel Washington downtown?

It was awesome.

Isn’t the summer heat just as bad in Washington as it is in Atlanta? 

JW: Hotlanta is called Hotlanta for a reason.

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2012 CitiOpen Interview: Chanelle Scheepers

2012 CitiOpen Interview: Chanelle Scheepers
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com

Chanelle Scheepers tripled up this week with new coach Jeff Wilson and Irina Falconi. The South African veteran had just booked a spot into the WTA CitiOpen doubles final along with Falconi when she gave us some time at the players lounge on Thursday.

You have a new coach as of, Sunday? What made you go with Jeff Wilson?

I was looking for a while. What I really liked about him is that he’s really positive and we’ve known him for a very long time. For me, it’s really important to have someone who is positive, so that’s why I went with him.

You also have a new doubles partner in Irina Falconi.

We actually played at Wimbledon and we played really well. It just made sense that since we played well and we have the same coach, to try and play more tournaments together.


Didn’t you play in a doubles final with Abigail Spears?

I pretty much just played with whoever before. I was really focused on my singles before and played doubles if I could get in and at tournaments where I wanted to play. It’s nice to play with someone you can work together on some stuff.

Although you have singles titles, you’re still looking for a doubles title, aren’t you?

It will be nice to get that first doubles one, but we just go out there, try our best and enjoy. I really enjoy playing with Irina. I have a lot of fun.

You two seem to get to know your opponents in the first set, and by the time the super-breaker comes around, it’s almost as if you didn’t even need to play it!

It’s funny that all the matches went that way. We really build momentum through the match. From the beginning, we had a clear sense of what we wanted to do with our plans. As the match progressed, we started playing better and better.

Chanelle with Coach Wilson in background

Sweet as a Georgia Peach: Melanie Oudin, @IrinaFalconi Advance to 2nd round of @RolandGarros For 1st Time #RG12

Melanie tackles the Terre Battue and Larsson, Too

Melanie Oudin and Irina Falconi, two of Tennis East Coast’s favorite players, were both set in for early first round singles matches this morning by Roland Garros schedulers. It meant an early rise on the East Coast for fans, but it also started the French Open in a very good way for American tennis.

Oudin dispatched Johanna Larsson of Sweden 3 and 3, and was clearly elated to notch her first-ever main draw singles win at Roland Garros.

Falconi started slower, but found her form in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania. She also claimed her first win on the famed ‘terre battue’. Falconi has a date with Sam Stosur in the second round, while Oudin will face the winner of Sara Errani/Casey Dellacqua.

Irina Falconi

Both players have Georgia connections. Oudin is a Marietta native and Falconi was a Georgia Tech All-American who now lives in Atlanta.

As a fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better start. There are a lot of Americans who wish they could have filled the empty seats at Roland Garros today.

–S. Fogleman

Family Circle Cup: Day 1

Melanie came to Charleston to Win, but she's in a 3rd set against Watson

Day 1 winners include Benesova, the Pliskovas, Domachowska, Duque-Marino, Brengle, Craybas, Amanmuradova, Uhlirova, Ormaechea, Rogers, Lucic, Cabeza Candela, Larcher de Brito, Garcia, Hlavackova, Rampre, Chan and Giorgi. Five matches are still being played. More details to follow, including tomorrow’s Order of Play.

Falconi and Wilson are all business and all smiles

These two make excellent practice partners

Southern Accent: Falconi, Hampton join Charleston Main Draw, Oudin gets Qualifying WC #FCC2012

We've fallen for Falconi, and we can't get up.

If you know a thing or two about this blog, you know that we love Irina Falconi and Jamie Hampton. The Family Circle Cup just got a little better as they have both been awarded main draw wild cards, according to the tournament’s website.

Hampton, a 19-year-old Auburn, Alabama native who used to drive three hours each way every day to train at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, is the subject of a very inspirational story, especially at today’s gas prices.

Jamie ended Jankovic's bid in Indian Wells

Irina Falconi, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket/Energizer Bunny, is a compact and competitive player with as much heart as the top 10 combined.

No Family Circle Cup would be complete without Melanie Oudin, who could definitely use a long run into the main draw at a WTA Premier event. She received a qualifying wild card.

They join Hayley Carter, Shelby Rogers, Alison Riske, Grace Min and Maria Sanchez as Family Circle Cup contestants with South Carolina or Georgia connections.

Forget Miami for a moment. Charleston is the real Southern Ball of the WTA.

Atlanta’s Wild Card Super Friends: Hampton, Riske join Keys in AO Main Draw #AusOpen #USTA



Last month in Atlanta, eight women competed for a Main Draw Wild Card for the Australian Open. It turns out that three of those competitors will be in the Big Kangaroo Dance after all. Jamie Hampton and Alison Riske both advanced in straight sets yesterday in final qualifying rounds at Melbourne Park.


Up next for Hampton will be Mandy Minella of Luxembourg. Riske will face Urszula Radwanska for starters. Madison Keys will open against Zie Jheng.

Other first-round American women’s matches include Christina McHale taking on Lucie Safarova, Irina Falconi against Alberta Brianti, Betthanie Mattek-Sands against Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena vs. Tamira Paszek, Sloane Stephens against Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Vavs Lepchenko starts against Daniela Hantuchova and Vania King will meet Kateryna Bondarenko.

Falconi and Hampton should definitely be in a position to advance, so Atlanta should have more than one reason to celebrate.

Memory Lane: Rando Photos from Racquet Club of the South #USTA

Here’s ten more shots from this month’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, Georgia. Until a Tumblr account is opened, there is where the photos will come to rest. And Happy New Year, y’all. Thanks for visiting the site in 2011, and special thanks to experienced bloggers and USTA reps for offering advice. Let’s bump into each other next year. See you in Charleston, Newport, DC, Atlanta, NYC, Charlottesville and Knoxville?

Nobody is more comfortable on a court than Rhyno.